How Great Leaders Unleash the Best in Others

leadership

When it comes to someone developing into the best version of themselves, we’ve been tricked into believing a common myth: It’s the idea that people grow into this version of themselves on their own. 

We have all thought about this or even tried it. If you just read enough, practice enough, watch enough or get enough reps, your growth and development will take of itself. 

There is one big problem with this mindset; you are only going to be able to take yourself so far on your own, and it’s not going to be the best version of yourself. 

This is where leadership comes in. As Alex Judd, CEO of Path for Growth, reminded me in a recent episode of The John Eades Podcast, “The highest calling of a leader is to unleash the best in others.” He continued, “If you’re going to pursue that calling of leadership, you have to believe the best is possible.”

A leader’s highest calling is to unleash the best in others.

Why Most Managers Don’t Do It

There are many reasons leaders stop short of helping unleash the best in others, but to put them in the most common order, it would be:

  1. They don’t think they are good enough or worthy enough to do it
  2. They don’t know how to do it
  3. They are concerned about losing team members to turnover
  4. They are fearful team members will surpass them (thus the leader becomes less valuable)

If you have ever felt these or experienced any of these from a previous boss, know these are unhealthy and faulty beliefs. And before anyone can change how they do something, it begins with their beliefs. If you take nothing else away from this article, please remember this; the things you believe determine how you behave.

The things you believe determine how you behave. 

So how do you change your beliefs and unleash the best in others? Here are four tips to keep in mind:

1. You Can’t Do it For Them.

I know this sounds counterintuitive, but you have to start with the correct mindset that you can’t do the self-disciplined work for anyone else. You should model the behavior and demonstrate to your team the kind of effort and discipline it takes to unleash the best version of yourself, but you shouldn’t force them to do the same.  

It reminds me of the old quote; “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” A leader’s job is not to do the work for someone else. Instead, it’s to be a vehicle to help them develop. 

A leader’s job is not to do the work for someone else. Instead, it’s to be a vehicle to help them develop.

2. Discover What They are Trying to Achieve

The best and easiest way to unleash the best in others is to have a solid grasp on what they are trying to achieve and where they are trying to go. Too often, leaders assume people want to arrive at the same or a similar destination as they do.  

For example, a salesperson may want to be a VP of Sales, but not every salesperson wants to go on to be a VP of Sales. It’s possible for a college basketball player to have a vision of playing in the NBA, but not every college basketball player wants to play professional basketball.  

The only way to unleash the best in others is to uncover their personal goals, dreams, and aspirations and tie your coaching to helping them achieve those things. 

3. Challenge Their Growth

If you settle for the same opportunities, output, or effort people give on a day in, day out basis; there won’t be much growth. One of my favorite quotes on the subject comes from Fred DeVito, “if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you!” Often what leaders must do is to challenge their team healthily. 

If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.

Challenging people in a healthy way comes in many forms. For example, you can do it verbally in coaching interactions or with development opportunities such as industry events, distributing books, sharing blogs, or bringing in a speaker. Instead of getting caught up in how you do this for your team, the key is that you are doing it.   

Essential Reminder

The danger of this kind of challenging approach is if the people you are trying to develop don’t know you care about them, you risk challenging them having the opposite of your intended effect. So keep in mind one of my favorite leadership lessons, “connect before you correct.”

“Connect before you correct.”

4. Be an Uber Coach

One way a leader separates themselves from being a manager is the mindset they take to coaching others. A coach, by definition, 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 embrace the mindset of an “Uber Coach.” Much like an uber driver, leaders must be willing and able to coach team members anyplace and anytime when needed or required.  

Coaching once a year in a performance review isn’t coaching, it’s negligence.

If you are going to unleash the best in others, you must coach them like crazy. While outside professional or executive coaches can provide tremendous perspective, they can’t coach daily. If you lead a team, it’s your responsibility to make coaching your people a top priority. 

Closing

Doing these things will not work on 100% of the people you pour into. But it will work on individuals who are coachable and desire to get better.

This is when your leadership efforts will propel them to unleash the best version of themselves and allow them to move onwards and upwards to bigger and better things.  

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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.

5 Mistakes You’re Making When Leading Your Team

Shaming colleague for mistake

You’ve got the title; you’ve got the direct reports; you’ve got the desire to be a leader and not a manager; yet, when it comes to getting results, your team keeps falling short.

The voluntary turnover is high, the engagement is low, and you end up doing most of the work (or, worse, micromanaging the work) to get the numbers to look acceptable. 

It’s time to stop hoping and start leading. While each company and situation is slightly different, managers make some fairly common mistakes when leading their team. At the center of many of these mistakes is the belief that your instincts are enough and that leadership should be easy. 

Many leadership mistakes stem from the false belief that your instincts are enough and that leadership should be easy.

In Building the Best, I highlight research from Leadership Quarterly. They found that 24% of our leadership ability is genetics, and 76% of that ability is learned or developed. 

It’s true that instincts or DNA is a proven aspect of leadership. However, genetics by themselves won’t mold you into the best leader you can be. Often it requires overcoming simple mistakes through hard work. Mistakes by themselves aren’t bad; it’s repeated errors that keep us from being the best leader we can be. If you take nothing else away today, let it be this:

Great leaders aren't afraid to make mistakes, because they always learn from them.

Here are a few common mistakes I have made myself and those I have seen coaching and teaching leaders.

Mistake #1: You Care More About Your Title Than Your People

Do you remember how it felt when you got that promotion that was accompanied by a Manager, Supervisor, or Executive title? Chances are, you felt pride, a sense of accomplishment, and a bit of excitement. 

While there is nothing wrong with having a new title, there is a good chance it’s hurting your ability to lead effectively. Titles are dangerous for those who hold them because they create a distraction from the purpose of leadership; elevating others.

There is a substantial difference between the title of "manager" and the actions of a leader.

There’s a substantial difference between the title of “manager” and the actions of a leader; one is vastly more important than the other in today’s business environment. Many of the primary roles of a manager can be automated and replaced by technology; but, there has never been a more critical time in our history to be a leader.  

How to Overcome It: The only time your title matters is on the first day.  After that, it’s how you use it. Turn your attention to the primary job of your position and leadership- elevating others. Constantly remind yourself how to do this by serving others instead of yourself. A great way to remember this is what I call the “PTS Method; “Prepare to Serve.” Anytime you change environments or Zoom meetings, remind yourself, “prepare to serve.”

Mistake #2 You Take Credit and Shift Blame

Taking credit and shifting blame is a mistake made by many leaders to jockey for hierarchical positions. The best leaders are quick to take the blame when things go wrong, and equally as fast to give credit to their team when things go right. 

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

How to Overcome It: As Jack Welch famously said, “When you were made a leader you weren’t given a crown, you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others.” Get in the habit of recognizing team members daily for their effort and positive attitude. You will be amazed at how your team responds when you give credit and take the blame. It’s almost always with better effort and increased responsibility. 

Mistake #3 You Execute Without Input (or buy-in)

I get it, work is coming at your fast, and we don’t always have to as leaders to be molders of consensus. There are undoubtedly times when sole decision-making and executing with optimal speed are required. However, try to avoid superseding your team to save time in these situations.  This kind of mistake is demoralizing and causes an immediate reaction of resistance from team members. 

How to Overcome It: Invite experienced team members into the decision-making process. Ask for their opinion or, better yet, empower them to make the final decision. Provide clear directions and a timeline, and then let them do their job!  

Mistake #4 You Assume You’re an Effective Communicator

Most managers assume they are effective communicators, but in reality the opposite is true. They aren’t clear, concise, and conclusive when they communicate, and they struggle to tell stories that inspire. 

There has never been a more critical time with hybrid work and multiple communication methods to stop making this excuse and intentionally work on your communication skills. I tell participants in Effective Leadership Communication.

Leaders can make small changes in communication to lead to big changes in performance.

How to Overcome It: One-word managers use to modify an employee’s behavior is the word “Don’t.” Not only is it a micromanaging word, but it’s demotivating to people. Here is how managers typically use it:

  • “Don’t do it that way.”
  • “Don’t miss the deadline.”
  • “Don’t say it like that; say it like this.”

Writing these statements that start with “don’t” exudes a manager trying to control, not inspire. Since inspiration is a key to elevating others, breathing life into team members will help change behavior with an internal trigger instead of an external motivator. Do your best to remove the word “don’t” from your communication. See what I did there? “Do your best to… instead of “Don’t use don’t….” Once inspires you and one is demotivating. 

Mistake #5 You Think You Can Do it All On Your Own

Joe Burrow joined the Cincinnati Bengals as the #1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. He is now taking his team to their first Super Bowl (the pinnacle of the sport) for the first time in 33 years. While watching the Bengals underdog victory against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship, an essential leadership lesson emerged:

You might be like Joe Burrow was to the Cincinnati Bengals and be the leader that changed everything in your organization. You might be supremely talented, have incredible skills, and work 120 hours a week, but you can’t do everything alone. It’s time to stop making this mistake and to empower your people.

How to Overcome It: Don’t isolate yourself. Matthew Kelly wrote, “When we isolate ourselves, we don’t cut ourselves off from the problems, we cut ourselves off from the solutions.” Secondly, ask for help from your team or get a professional coach to challenge and support you. Remember, one leader can change everything, but one leader can’t do everything. Said differently, be the leader, not the hero. 

Be the leader, not the hero.

Closing

I don’t know anyone who likes making mistakes; but, it requires significant mental energy and effort to keep from repeating them. A mentor reminded me recently, “a mistake should be your teacher, not your attacker. A mistake is a lesson, not a loss. It is a temporary, necessary detour, not a dead end.”

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

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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 the Best Leaders Reduce Turnover in Key Employees

Inbound Marketing, Lead Magnet, Customer Attraction and Retention, B2B Concept

There is this common belief that every high-performing employee is looking for a different job. It’s almost as if a cloud of panic and worry has set in about the “great resignation.” It’s gotten so bad that the #1 concern of CEOs has become “hiring enough of the right people.”

While it’s undoubtedly true the quit rate for professionals is at its highest point since the U.S. Bureau of Labor started tracking the statistic in 2000, it doesn’t mean every employee is on the brink of quitting. 

In fact, if organizations put as much effort into retention as they do in recruiting they would be in a much better position. This is why the best organizations are winning the war for talent by focusing on retention over recruiting.  

The best organizations are winning the war for talent by focusing on retention over recruiting.

In a recent episode of the At the Table Podcast, Pat Lencioni said it well, “It’s never been more important to have a healthy organization and good culture because, for the shortage of people, the good ones are going to stay at the right places.” Not only is Lencioni right, but he also exposes the truth about how essential outstanding leadership is to retention.  

Great leaders put more effort into retention than they do in recruiting.

Prioritizing Retention Improves Recruiting

Recruiting talented people to join a team or organization will always be critical to long-term success. However, something phenomenal happens when leaders prioritize retention over recruiting. I refer to it as the “Retainment Cycle.” Here is how it works:

Great Culture + Engaged Employees + Optimum Results = Attracts Talent

No alt text provided for this image

Are you looking for ways to prioritize retention with your employees? Here are some great places to start. 

1. Make Retention Everyone’s Responsibility 

It’s tempting to believe that retention is only a manager’s responsibility, but that wouldn’t be true. While front-line managers play the biggest role in the retention of an employee, retention is everyone’s responsibility. I shared some ideas in a recent interview here:

2. Share Common Values and Purpose

Money is easily the most popular incentivizing tool organizations use to retain and recruit employees. While pay is significant, it’s not the most important. People give their best effort when on a team that shares values and purpose. 

People give their best effort on a team that shares values and purpose. 

A consistent and systematic approach to aligning core values and communicating the deeper purpose behind the work is imperative. There is nothing worse than defining and talking about core values yet leaders are not demonstrating them. Leaders are the primary driver of core values, so they must embody them correctly. 

3. Coach and Train Like Crazy

People stay longer when they feel invested in and cared for. As Sir Richard Branson famously said, “train them well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

One way to train and care for employees is to have managers who act as a coach. A coach, by definition, trains, and instructs. In the Coaching for Excellence, I define coaching this way:

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

Organizations that create a coaching culture outperform their competitors and maintain an upward trend in human capital development. 

Closing

Making retention everyone’s responsibility, sharing common values & purpose, and coaching like crazy are just a few of the critical things leaders can do to priorities retention over recruiting. Other best practices include:

  • Engagement surveys
  • Training Programs
  • Executive Communication
  • Mentorship Programs
  • Rewards and Recognitions Programs

The key is to find what works best for your organization and go all-in on executing it relentlessly every day.  

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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 Solve Problems to Be An Effective Leader

Businessmen solving problems

How important is it that you are a problem solver? Why do some people tend to have better critical thinking skills than others? These are the types of questions you may ask yourself or even read an article about, but understandably don’t ask your boss. Because admitting you aren’t excellent at identifying solutions to complex or straightforward problems might be a yellow flag in your career.

According to research, you would be accurate because problem-solving and critical thinking is in the top 10 most vital professional skills in 2021. If that wasn’t enough, your value to a company or team often reflects the number of problems you help solve. 

The good news is that problem-solving and critical thinking skills can be developed and refined with the right mindset and work. Because they aren’t about being brilliant, they are about being logical, relentless, and consistent. 

Problem-solving isn’t about being brilliant; it’s about being logical, relentless, and consistent. 

Your willingness to be proactive in problem-solving is more important than solving one big problem. Whether this is a skill that comes easier to you or not, getting good at running towards issues instead of avoiding them is a secret to your success. 

Experts agree, “There are a lot of people who can identify the problem, but I frequently see the people who have made it to the highest levels of organizations, are the ones with those critical thinking and problem-solving skills,” says Spencer Bethmann, a director in HR & Talent Management at KPMG.

How to Solve Problems Like the Best Leaders

Each person is responsible for developing their problem-solving skills. If you want to improve, here are a few standard suggestions:

  1. Identify the Problem
  2. Research Possible Solutions
  3. Test the Best Solutions
  4. Modify Based on Results

Just getting in the routine of executing these steps at a higher level will make you a better critical thinker and problem solver on your own, but the best leaders on the planet go beyond this. They know the key to their leadership success isn’t being the only problem solver; they need a team full of people who embrace the responsibility of thinking critically. 

It reminds me of a powerful idea David Marquet shared with me in an interview on the Following My Lead Podcast, “great leadership is all about making decisions where the information is.”

Great leaders know the secret to a team’s success is for every team member to solve problems where the information is. 

How Do You Get Others to Embrace This Thinking?

When leaders are great problem solvers, team members begin to rely on them to solve every problem naturally. If you are in this camp, be humble and embrace the skills you have developed, but don’t settle. If you are the only person solving problems, you won’t go far as a leader.  

If you are the only person solving problems, you won’t go far as a leader.  

It’s your job to embrace problem-solving through systems and collaboration. Then to talk about the shared responsibility of every team member to problem solve, and never settle for anything less.  

Keys to Creating Proactive Problem Solvers

Great leaders use all kinds of strategies and techniques to get team members in a problem-solving mentality. Horst Schulze, the famous customer service and hotel executive, allowed employees at the Ritz Carlton a budget of up to $2,000 to solve problems and delight customers without approval when they deemed necessary.  

Since each companies budgets are different, the common threads for leaders to focus on are:

  • Culture 
  • Coaching

I defined culture in Building the Best as “the shared values and beliefs that guide thinking and behavior.” When solving problems is a core value, and it’s rewarded and recognized when team members live it out; it becomes engrained in your culture. Once this happens in a company, not only does each team know it, they hold each other accountable. If you are interested in company culture, you can register for the free webinar here.

Since not everyone has fully developed their problem-solving skills, coaching is essential to help them thrive. There are great ideas in a previous column, however, there is one particular coaching question that you should add to your repertoire when a team member presents a problem. Here it is:

“What have you done or attempted up until this point to solve it?”

This coaching question demonstrates to team members that you care about what they have attempted. You reinforce the essential nature of their critical thinking before suggesting or collaborating on a possible solution. 

There are certainly exceptions to every rule, like a genuine emergency. Outside of these situations, the better you get at asking questions to challenge people to solve a problem, the better off your team will be in the long run. 

Closing

Unfortunately, there are many professionals out there who believe they are effective problem solvers, but in reality, they are relatively average. If you are curious about yourself, answer this question, “do people know you for your problem-solving skills?”  

If you are a team leader, I want you to ask a slightly different question, “do people know your team members as proactive problem solvers?” If you don’t know the answer to either question, you are just blending in with every other professional. 

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 Handle Working for a Bad Manager

Retro office interior workspace and robot manager.

Unrealistic expectations cause problems and are exposed in a multitude of situations. Sometimes they are related to ourselves and thinking we should never make a mistake. Other times, they are connected to someone else that we interact with, like a boss or manager. 

We all have unrealistic expectations, but this doesn’t mean they are good for you. Quite the opposite, they can ruin a relationship, cause disengagement at work, and stop us from achieving attainable goals. 

“Unrealistic expectations are the seeds of resentment.” 

These are the wise words a coach and mentor told me as I wrestled with feelings of frustration with a former boss. While I struggled to understand his remarks at the time, it’s clear now that when we or anyone else falls short of our unrealistic expectations, we draw false conclusions, feed ourselves lies, and start the process of adverse outcomes becoming a reality.  

Take Larry, an experienced salesperson, as an example. He joined a company in startup mode and reported to Tom, a young and energetic first-time VP of Sales. Larry held the unrealistic expectation that “Tom should never be late to a virtual meeting.” He viewed tardiness as a sign of disrespect to him and anyone else attending a meeting.  

While Tom didn’t intend to be late for meetings with Larry, it was impossible for him to always be on time due to situations outside of his control. He reported to a long-winded CEO, had twelve salespeople with various experience levels, and was responsible for helping his young kids navigate virtual school at home. 

When Tom joined calls late, Larry concluded that Tom wasn’t a good leader because he lacked great time management skills. Instead of getting curious and uncovering the reasons for Tom’s tardiness, Larry allowed his disappointment to affect his effort. This eventually snowballed into an unfortunate split from the company that was eventually purchased by a competitor, causing Larry to miss out on a significant payday. 

What are Unrealistic Expectations?

An expectation is a belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. Unrealistic expectations assume a level of control that we don’t actually have in a situation. This is not to say that having expectations or standards of behavior is a bad thing. The keyword here is unrealistic.  

The gap between unrealistic expectations and reality lies in disappointment. If disappointment isn’t dealt with, it will hurt instead of helping your future outcomes. 

If disappointment, the gap between expectations and reality, isn’t dealt with, it will hurt instead of helping your future outcomes.

As someone who cares about achieving goals, properly dealing with feelings of disappointment is something, you should care about. While the strategies for best navigating dissatisfaction are long, it’s essential to be aware and have the courage to confront it. 

Why Most Employees Have Unrealistic Expectation of Their Boss

Most people are hard on themselves and even harder on their managers at work. The reason is simple, we desire people in leadership positions to be better and make fewer mistakes than we do. While it’s true that experience and wisdom lend leaders to make effective decisions and perform at a high level, no one is perfect.  

Just because someone has a title doesn’t make them perfect. Give leaders the grace you should give yourself.  

If this Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, employees need people in their corner who can empathize with their situation and act accordingly; leaders included.  

How to Relinquish Unrealistic Expectation of Your Manager

One of the keys to your engagement and performance is relinquishing unrealistic expectations of your manager. Here are a few ways to do that:

1. Focus on Growth Mode

There are so many bad managers because being an effective leader is hard. Having said that, there is a big difference between having solid boundaries for how a boss/manager should treat you and being patient with them when they are actively working on improving. If a manager constantly berates or treats you like you are beneath them, it is safe to assume that there is a need for immediate change.  However, there is more to flesh out than meets the eye in a situation like Larry and Tom’s.  

One way of relinquishing unrealistic expectations for a manager is to evaluate if they are in growth mode. The reason is simple;

“One mark of a leader getting better is their willingness to seek feedback and act differently because of it.”

If you were new to a job or role, you would want others to be patient as you developed the skills required to succeed. Now is the time to do the same for others. To determine if your boss is deserving of this, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are they reading books, listening to podcasts, or attending workshops to grow their knowledge and develop their skills?
  • Do they ask for feedback from you or anyone else about what they can do better?
  • Have they completed a 360° assessment in the past 12 months?
  • Are they leading their best in the corporate environment and culture you both are in?

2. Use the Heart to Heart Technique

This technique isn’t for the faint of heart (pun intended). The heart-to-heart technique is a scheduled meeting with your manager designed and practiced before it takes place. It’s a courageous conversation laying evidence and feelings about what you need from your manager to be engaged and perform at your best. 

While this technique doesn’t always go as planned or have the desired outcome, you should feel good about opening the lines of communication and giving the situation a chance to improve. 

Closing

Unrealistic expectations about your manager are unhelpful expectations. They set both parties up for disappointment. Now is the time to reevaluate, better communicate, and have higher levels of empathy for everyone in the workplace, your boss included. 

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. https://bit.ly/3goZLv2

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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 the Best Leaders Embrace the Uncomfortable

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

Doing hard things isn’t easy.  

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

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

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

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

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

Leadership is Hard, But You Can Be Successful At It

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

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

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

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

  1. Time
  2. Effort

Overcoming Time and Giving Maximum Effort. 

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

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

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

1. Invest in Your Development Daily

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

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

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

2. Get Good at Thinking of Others

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

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

Closing

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

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

Do you agree? Tell me in the comments

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

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

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

How to Successfully Lead a Hybrid Team

work from home

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

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

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

Not Everyone Agrees

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

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

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

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

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

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

Choosing to lead is as important as leadership itself.

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

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

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

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

1. Drop the Judgement and Embrace Empathy

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

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

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

2. Clarify Hybrid Work Standards

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

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

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

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

3. Coach for Development 

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

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

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

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

4. Leverage Hybrid Tools That Promote Leadership

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

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

Closing

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

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

Want to Improve Virtual Relationships? Try These Team Building Exercises

Woman working from home. Headache, stress

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

Difficulties in developing effective team building

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

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

1. Look into each other’s houses

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

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

2. Desert island scenario

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

3. A game of guessing personal facts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final thoughts 

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

Guest Post This was a guest post by Shaun Parker

The Simple Rule You Should Adopt Before Firing an Employee

Boss firing a male subordinate

If you have chosen a position that comes with the responsibility of leading people, you have wrestled with this question, “Is this person the right fit?” There are times when that examination is silent in your mind, or it’s a full-fledged conversation with someone else for counsel.  

Unfortunately, the hard decisions around talent management are just part of the territory of leadership. Anyone involved in the talent management life cycle knows the three essential components; hiring, retaining and firing. 

Many phenomenal leaders have adopted the talent mantra “hire slow, fire fast,” and for good reason. Getting the right people on the team is the most critical decision any leader makes.  

Getting the right people on the team is the most critical decision any leader makes

When teams have the right people, leading is not only easier, it’s more enjoyable. But even the best leaders who spend a substantial amount of time vetting potential candidates for skill and culture fit make mistakes.  

Other managers are hired or promoted into their role and they assume responsibility for team members they didn’t choose or hire. This means their first two to four weeks are heavily focused on identifying whether they have the right team on the bus.  

For any manager that finds themselves in one of these positions or has recently asked the question, “Is this person the right fit?” It’s time to adopt the “45 Day Rule.”  

The “45 Day Rule”

Time and feelings are funny things when paired together. In one moment, we can be sure of something, and just a few days later, we can feel the opposite way. Because of this, the “fire fast” mantra is a little too hasty for my liking.  

Instead, I coach leaders to leverage the “45 Day Rule.” Here is how it works. Once you question whether someone is the right fit or in the right role, you set a date on your calendar 45 business days in the future. Then, on or before that date, a decision is made about their future employment.

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This approach provides the timeline and freedom to coach them up or move them out. 

Within the “45 Day Rule,” commit to doing three key things:

1. Communicate the Truth 

I have written before, “all improvement starts with the truth.” When it comes to talent-related decisions, communicating the truth is no different. Talented professionals deserve the truth when it comes to their future.

Now, there are different ways to communicate the thought or belief that this person might not be in the proper role. But, regardless of what you say, it should always start with something like this: “I care about you as a person, which means I care about your performance.”

Opening up your conversation this way demonstrates that you are sharing the truth with them because you want them to be successful and are not judging them as a person but how they are performing.

2. Coach Them Daily

It’s far common for managers who have mentally made up their minds that someone isn’t an excellent fit to ignore them to help justify their upcoming decision. I can’t stand this approach because it’s the easy way out.  

There is no denying that fact some people won’t work out. However, we owe it to ourselves and to them to do what’s in our power to help them succeed. One of those things is coaching.  

The development of team members should always be a priority, and coaching them should be a daily habit. However, when a team member is within the “45 Day Rule”, turning up the coaching dial is required.  

The development of team members should always be a priority, and coaching them should be a daily habit. 

Seek out opportunities to help develop their skills and be conscious of asking great coaching questions instead of just giving them answers.  Learn to be an effective coach in less than 1 hour with the Coaching for Excellence Program.

3. Provide Quality Feedback

Coaching and feedback are different things trying to achieve a similar result and both are important during the “45 Day Rule.”

Here are some general differences between coaching and feedback:

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There is a simple and effective way that researchers call “Magical feedback” that I described in Building the Best.

The Exception to the Rule

With any rule, there is always an exception. If the person whom you would add to the “45 Day Rule” is; an energy vampire, hurts your culture, is a terrible personality fit, or has shown no desire to develop the skills required to do the job, there is no need to wait.  

The sooner you decide someone is a bad cultural fit, the less time and energy both parties waste.  

Closing

Deciding to retain someone or removing them to help them find a better fit someone where else isn’t easy. But you are in your role for a reason and that’s to make decisions like this. So have courage and use the “45 Day Rule” to help you make the best decision possible. 

Coaching for Excellence: The development of your coaching skills will make a tremendous difference in helping you lead your best in 2021. Learn more here 

Take the Free Leadership Style Quiz? Join over 59k 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.

5 Leadership Predictions You Need to Know for 2021

a fortune cookie with a blank paper for your message

While Covid-19 wreaked havoc on the workplace in 2020, it fast-tracked changes that would have taken five years and crammed them into five months. Leaders were tested in ways they never imagined possible. They showed flexibility and adaptability to not only survive the brutal year. Now the calendar change has turned their attention to what’s ahead.

It’s finally 2021, which means a new round of leadership predictions. Last year’s predictions aged reasonably well, such as managers having to learn to lead remote teams. Others not so much, such as large organizations looking like universities (it’s getting closer, but not there yet.) This time around, I look at some current trends continuing because of Covid protocol and some contrarian perspectives to help you lead your best in 2021. 

1. The Coaching Rage Infiltrates Managers

The boom in professional coaching is real. Organizations and individual contributors sought professional coaches to help boost performance in 2020. Thanks to companies like BetterUp and Soar, the cost of professional coaching is no longer out of bounds for leaders below the C-Suite. This trend doesn’t slow down in 2021 thanks to technology, the gig economy, and HR Executives looking to develop leadership skills earlier in employees’ careers.

However, it doesn’t stop there. More managers will start acting and behaving like professional coaches to their team members. The signup rate from the first two Coaching for Excellence virtual workshops shows me managers are putting on their coaching hat much more often than they used to. 

Key Takeaway: Expect managers to look for professional coaching certifications and companies to offer internal coaching programs. 

2. Character Counts Again

You might think this is a result of the 2020 US Presidential elections, but you would be wrong. The character test in both political parties is at an all-time low. I defined character in Building the Best as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” The time is now for leaders to do what is right and measure themselves against right and wrong.   

Scott Olster highlighted Adam Grant in his Linkedin 2021 predictions, “As we strive to overcome a global pandemic and an economic recession, the character of leaders, will matter as much as their competence. In 2021, servant leadership will be a competitive advantage.”

While being a servant leader doesn’t guarantee results, it does guarantee an edge in recruiting, developing, and retaining top talent.   

This blend of high character and servant leadership will continue to be a competitive advantage in the marketplace. While being a servant leader doesn’t guarantee results, it does guarantee an edge in recruiting, developing, and retaining top talent.   

Key Takeaway: Low character leaders won’t last, and servant-minded professionals will get their opportunities to lead. 

3. The Same Person at Work and Home

It’s almost crazy to think we used to be one person at home and another person at work. Not only has this been going away, but it’s also finally getting fast-tracked. People want to talk about their hobbies, kids, families, and side projects. 

However, it doesn’t stop there. With the Pandemic having a severe impact on our mental and physical health, leaders will have no choice but to embrace the whole person at work.  

This means leaders must get to know their people personally to uncover irregularities in behavior. Expect companies to invest in gym memberships, in-house therapists, and embrace faith beliefs in the workplace. 

Key Takeaway: Empathy will win over judgment in 2021

4. Less Tolerance for Average

It might seem strange for me to follow up on the last prediction with this one. However, the reduction of the workforce and organizations trimming duplicate roles in the last year proves the future isn’t going to tolerate average. 

The only way for a team to thrive is to have each team member choose excellence.

The only way for a team to thrive moving forward will be to have a team full of people choosing to be excellent. Too many professionals are living out their careers by accident instead of excellence. Unfortunately for professionals making this kind of decision, the leaders and companies that desire excellence won’t tolerate them in their organization. 

Key Takeaway: Don’t go through your career by accident; choose excellence. 

5. In-Person Events are back by Q3 or Q4 and Bigger Than Ever. 

How good of an ending would this Pandemic have if we returned to a semblance of normal human interaction? One of the ways this will happen is by going to industry conferences and having an entire company in one room together to celebrate achievements.  

While anyone who says they can predict this Pandemic’s future would be lying, expect the hospitality industry and live events to come back raging when people feel safe again.  

By no means is our new virtual workforce going away. There is too much financial incentive for companies, and most employees love remote work flexibility. However, when companies and teams do get together, they will go all out.  

Key Takeaway: Patience is a virtue. We will be human again. 

Which predictions do you agree or disagree with? 

Coaching for Excellence Workshop: The development of your coaching skills and relying on a coaching framework will make a tremendous difference in helping you lead your best in 2021. Join John on January 20th for the next live Coaching for Excellence Workshop from 12-1 PM EST. Sign up today and get the 2021 Leadership Plan for free today!

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

The Leadership Development Day – John is speaking at this one of a kind virtual personal development event on February 4th, 2021. Use the code LDDLearnLoft, and save 20% of your registration. https://cvent.me/1PRR7a

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.