How to Coach Others When You’re a Manager

It’s a lot easier for people to perform without assistance than having to assist in their performance.

While most professionals have a decent sense of what skills they’re good at and which ones need work, most of us don’t have a manager who coaches and challenges us to get from where we are to where we want or need to be.  

Most professionals don’t have a manager who challenges us to get from where we are to where we want or need to be.

That lack of coaching from managers can be the difference between a promotion, achieving success, and increased self-confidence. When there is a lack of coaching from managers, team members are left to develop alone, which doesn’t allow one to reach their potential.  

Perhaps unsurprisingly, when this happens, professionals turn to wise voices outside of the organization, thus increasing the likelihood of leaving the organization sooner. Now, this isn’t to say executive coaching or external mentorship isn’t good or helpful; they are. However, they are best capitalized in addition to internal coaching efforts by managers and executives.  

Many coaching studies show that people who receive coaching can increase their confidence by as much as 80%. Most professionals also benefit from increased productivity, career clarity, and more effective communication skills. That’s because, contrary to what the culture might tell us, exceptional performance doesn’t happen independently. It’s often people who act as a coach who helps us reach our potential.  

Contrary to what the culture tells you, exceptional performance doesn’t happen independently. 

So, if you’re not sure if you are coaching others effectively, or you feel a little awkward trying to coach people you have worked with for some time, here’s a playbook to assist you.

1. Choose the Right Moments

Timing is everything in coaching because every moment isn’t a coaching moment. Many managers who struggle to coach their team treats every moment like a coaching moment.

Take Mark, a sales manager, as an example. Instead of having dedicated sales coaching sessions with his team to develop their skills and confidence, he chose to coach during or right after every sales call with his reps. Instead of it having the intended effect, his team began performing worse because they felt micromanaged and pressured to win. Thus, making them more tight and tense because they were solely focused on outcomes and what Mark might say about their performance. 

Conversely, if Mark chose to coach in the right moments, his team would focus on the process and skill-building, thus focusing on the process and concentrating on what they can control.  

While this is a specific sales example, it’s true for all managers because of this leadership truth:

Great coaches know there is a time to perform, and there is a time to work on things to perform.

Do your best to choose moments like one-on-one’s, performance reviews, or training sessions to provide coaching in the right moments. 

2. Focus on the Individual 

Coaching might appear like a group activity, but it’s really about the individual. While there are scenarios like a basketball coach where group coaching is essential, the focus should be on each person more often than not. 

One of the things I have learned in my leadership coaching practice is how essential it is for managers to identify where team members are currently in their development and align their coaching appropriately. The reason is that the goal is simple, to help someone reach a stage of development that exceeds where they are today. 

The goal of coaching is simple: help people reach a stage of development that exceeds where they are today.

One of the ways to do this is to make coaching a priority. I share some ideas in a video here

3. Stick to the Basics

While there are undoubtedly advanced tactics, tools, and strategies that can be used for team members at an advanced stage of development, most managers would be better at coaching if they stuck to the basics, centered around asking great questions. This allows managers to get curious and pull the information out of people instead of always giving them the answer.

Most managers would be better at coaching if they stuck to the basics centered around asking great questions.

Try to use open-ended questions, free of judgment. Here are some of my favorite examples to add to your arsenal:

  • What was a highlight and lowlight in your performance this week?
  • Can you walk me through your thought process and what you have tried up until this point?
  • What do you think we should do to create the best result for everyone?
  • Can you tell me more?

Closing

Coaching others as a manager isn’t easy. It takes confidence, courage, and a belief that you are following a proven playbook. I hope that choosing the right moments, focusing on the individual, and sticking to the basics will help you develop your people in the best way possible.  

The best part about being a manager is that even if you don’t do your best today, you will get another chance tomorrow.  

Do you agree?

Coaching for Excellence Workshop: Ready to be a more effective coach? Register for the Workshop on December 16th at 12 PM EST.

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 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 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

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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.  

Coaching for Excellence Workshop: Ready to improve your coaching skills? Register for the 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 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 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 Help Managers Who Lack Leadership in Your Organization

No one wants to work at an organization lacking leadership, especially for a long time.  Despite not wanting to be in this situation, most people will stay regardless. Whether it’s the golden handcuffs or convincing our brains that things will change; something keeps us in less than ideal leadership situations.  

recent study found that 77% of organizations report that leadership is lacking, confirming that most professionals previously settled for average leadership. Luckily, that is starting to change. 

Take Jess, a former accounting manager at a global technology company, as an example. For two years, she worked under a fantastic leader who worked hard to elevate those on his team.  When he left for a big promotion at a different company, Jess got a new manager.

It didn’t take long to figure out that her new manager had a lot of industry experience but wasn’t a leader.  She barked orders, put her own needs ahead of the team, and blamed others when things didn’t go well.  

After multiple unsuccessful attempts from Jess and others to help her new manager change, she decided to take recruiters’ calls.  In just a few weeks, she accepted a new position at a different company for nearly an identical salary.  Not only was Jess’ decision proof that modern professionals aren’t tolerating bad leadership anymore, but it also reminds us of a critical truth about organizational leadership. 

Every organization has managers, not every organization has leaders

Being a manager is a position, but being a leader is a decision.

Are Leaders Born or Made?

Since being a leader is a decision, it probably has you asking an essential question about the topic, are leaders born or made?  I shared some ideas in a recent interview:

To summarize, leaders are both born and made, but they are primarily made through hard work by individuals and their organizations, encouraging their growth and development. If an organization is going to reach its potential, it rests on the leadership of its people. 

If an organization is going to reach its potential, it rests on the leadership of its people.

Not only do the best organization understand this, they know it’s not about just hiring great leaders but building them.  Here are a few ideas to empower your managers to be high performing leaders:

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1. Promote People With a Heart for Leadership

The most common retention technique organizations use is to promote people to managerial positions. Most do this without considering one’s heart for leadership or the new skills needed to be developed to be successful in their new role.

If more organizations would promote people with a heart for leadership, engagement would skyrocket.  

The simplest and most effective way to empower managers to be high-performing leaders is to promote the right people to leadership positions.  I wish there were a silver bullet to evaluate one’s heart for leadership, but unfortunately, there is not. Before promoting someone or giving them direct reports, a simple technique is to evaluate any previous behavior where they have proactively served others.  

2. Provide Them a Common Definition of Leadership

Having had the opportunity to work with hundreds of Executives and HR leaders to help develop their managers into leaders, most companies haven’t defined what it means to be a leader in their particular organization.  

They spend countless hours defining their mission, vision, and values (which is essential), but they stop at explaining what it means to be a leader.  When I talk about this with leadership teams, the most common excuse I get is, “we have so many experienced leaders at the organization; we don’t need to define it.  

It’s never too late to define something meaningful because the future hasn’t yet happened. 

To this I say, it’s never too late to define something meaningful because the future hasn’t yet happened. Maybe there is an unwritten definition about what it means to be a leader in your organization; but, I would prefer having it defined and communicated to increase the odds that future leaders buy into it.

3. Supply Them the Mirror for Self-Awareness

Improving in any skill, leadership included, requires a level of self-awareness that opens the heart and mind to do some things differently. A common practice for officers in the Marines is to put together what they refer to as an “Iron Council.” 

This group consists of six direct reports and peers of an officer.  A few times a year, the Iron Council meets with their officer in a group setting to provide feedback about his or her performance. This isn’t meant to air petty grievances but rather to provide a constructive place to improve.  

Something unique happens after these Iron Council meetings.  While feedback can be tough to hear, officers finds themselves on a mission to grow and get better.  This is essential because you can’t change what you don’t know. 

You can’t change what you don’t know

If you are a leader or you help develop leaders in your organization, be sure you have tools like 360 leadership assessment to supply the mirror for self-awareness. 

4. Give Them the Digital Tools to Lead

No one likes people who make excuses, but leading a fully remote or hybrid team is challenging.  While most leaders have gotten used to remote work because of the pandemic it doesn’t mean leadership is easier.  My experience has been that the sooner you give managers the tools to lead, the slower the excuses become. 

The sooner you have the tools, the slower the excuses become

While no tool is a silver bullet, tools like Peoplebox exist for these reasons.

5. Provide Them Coaching and Development

This one might come across as self-serving because of my industry, but the best athletes in the world have coaches, shouldn’t your leaders? 

Developing leadership skills is challenging. So providing team members a safe place to mold and grow their skills is essential. Since there isn’t only one perfect method to help leaders grow and develop, each organization has to come up with a sustainable and scalable way to make it happen in their organization.  

Closing

It would be fantastic if “empowering managers to be leaders” were as easy as turning on a light switch. But when you think about all the work, effort, and dedication it took and continues to take for that light switch to turn on the lights, it proves there is nothing easy about it.  

If you are have taken it upon yourself to become a better leader, thank you. If you are in Human resources or HR and have dedicated your career to helping other professionals develop, thank you. If you are a professional coach who helps other people see their blind spots, thank you. If you are a leader who works relentlessly to help your people grow and develop, thank you.

Coaching for Excellence Workshop Ready to improve your coaching skills? Learn More About 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 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 and VP of Thought Leadership at Peoplebox. He was namLinkedIn’sLinkedIn’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 Leaders Handle Team Conflict to Make it Constructive

Blocks of two team leaders compete with each other. Competition, conflict resolution

It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to figure out some groups of people perform better than others. Not only do high-performing teams produce better results, but their team members have a sense of meaning, belonging, and achievement.  

There have been many great studies about what makes a team successful, but maybe none better than Google’s two-year study called Project Aristotle. Google’s research team found that the best teams were effective because they worked well together, regardless of who was on them. The five characteristics of enhanced groups include; Psychological Safety, Dependability, Structure and Clarity, Meaning, and Impact.

The most essential of the five was psychological safety. All psychological safety means is when team members feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other. 

Bad leaders and teams are void of this crucial element because they look at being vulnerable, taking risks, and speaking up as negative instead of positive. It’s precisely why they never meet their potential and achieve their biggest goals. 

The best leaders and teams embrace constructive conflict. 

What’s interesting about psychological safety is that it’s impossible to achieve unless the leader and team members embrace the idea of constructive conflict.  

Three Types of Team Conflict

Conflict, by definition, is an escalation of a disagreement between two parties. It comes from the Latin word “Con” meaning together, and “Fligere” meaning to strike. While the definition is simple, what I have found coaching and working with leaders and teams for over a decade is there are three types of conflict:

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What Leaders and Teams Can Do to Have Constructive Conflict

Both high-performing teams and great leaders realize the only way to successfully have constructive conflict is for every team member to work toward a shared goal. The moment a team loses sight of the shared goal is the moment constructive conflict begins to fade away.  

The moment a team loses sight of the shared goal is the moment constructive conflict begins to fade away.

Take a small startup working in the eCommerce industry, as an example. The eight-person team was in a feverous debate (in Slack of all places) about their branding and modifying their company logo. In just a few slack messages, the discussion heated up, and each team member was passionately communicating the reasons for their particular position.  

As the conflict began to rise, it started to get a little personal, so I sent a short reminder message: Conflict on a team can be good! As long as we can remember, we want the same outcomes.

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Kudos to this high-performing team because they quickly pivoted from deconstructive conflict to constructive conflict by reminding each other of their shared goal and passion for the mission they were on together. 

Relish the Conflict, But Stay Kind and Curious

While some people’s personalities lend themselves to avoid conflict and others run towards it, a common desire is to be treated well in a disagreement. In Mareo McCracken’s new book, Really Care for Them, he wrote, “Nobody likes to be told to be quiet, or to be calm, to shut up.”

Not only is he right, but it’s also an essential part of constructive conflict. Being kind and recognizing that each person is a human with feelings is easy to forget in the heat of the moment. Great leaders recognize this and speak the truth, but they do it with empathy and humility.  

Great leaders speak the truth, but they do it with empathy and humility. 

As hard as it might be, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and communicating the truth is what the best leaders do. They recognize they aren’t above someone else, and there will be times where they will be the one who needs truth spoken into their life, so leaving their ego out is required. They rely heavily on the trust they have earned with their team in the small daily acts, so people will let them say hard things.

How to Embrace Constructive Conflict as a Leader

If you lead a team, you might think this sounds good, but there is no way this type of constructive conflict will work on my team. Instead of assuming it won’t, try to embrace the following: 

  1. Establish a Shared Goal – Where is your team going, and what are they working every day to accomplish?
  2. Ensure Everyone is Committed – It’s one thing to have a goal; it’s another thing for each team member to be committed to achieving it. 
  3. Invite “TVD”– “TVD” stands for the truth, debate, and vulnerability. If team members can leverage facts, discussion, be vulnerable in front of each other, success is in your future.
  4. Debate Doesn’t Mean Decision – Debate doesn’t mean the decision. On a recent episode of Master of Scale with Reid Hoffman, he covered one of Ray Dalio Principles about conflict; “Make sure people don’t confuse the right to complain, give advice, and openly debate with the right to make decisions.”

Closing

When you invite constructive conflict into your team and relationships, they will get better. The only question that remains is will you be the kind of leader who does it?

In the comments, please tell me how you invite constructive conflict on your team or organization.

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

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.

How to Win the Post Pandemic Talent War

talent

You can’t lead without people. Unfortunately, many bad leaders forget this simple truth. Instead of investing in and developing solid relationships with those they get the opportunity to lead, they complain, blame, and act as if people are disposable.  

While no great organization would advocate with this as a sustainable approach, it wasn’t the worst talent strategy for decades. Countless professionals were looking for employment, and those employed were scared about keeping their job. This put the power squarely in the hands of organizations.

However, the current environment has shifted dramatically, and the power of employment is now in the hands of talented professionals, and the best companies recognize it.  

The current talent environment has the power of employment in professionals’ possession, and the best companies recognize it.  

Research suggests that between 55% – 70% of professionals are actively looking to change jobs. Most professionals who have left or are thinking about going aren’t walking away for a small pay raise. They are walking towards leaders and companies who care about them and add value to their lives beyond a paycheck.  

Great companies change the lives of their team members, not just their bank account.

While no company or leader is perfect, there is a long list of companies going above and beyond to positively change the lives of their team members. Chick-fil-A, Movement Mortgage, Lippert Components, and Cora Health come to mind, to name a few. Creating a culture that changes the lives of their team members sounds obvious; putting it into action is a much different challenge.  

Retention Rules.

On average, employee turnover costs organizations between 1x-2x a year’s salary once they have been in the organization for over three years. A Google study found that the average employee that turns over within one year costs about $50,000. The cost of turnover is expensive, and retention is essential.  

Most leaders and organizations grasp this, but instead of implementing formal retention efforts, they go with the “Next employee up mentality.” This is a powerful mantra that many of the best sports teams live by when a player gets hurt or can’t play for another reason. Not only is it a good one, but it’s true. Every single person is replaceable, and no one is trying to change that.  

However, in a talent market like our current one, retaining high performers and great team players deserves a dedicated strategy corporately and implemented by each manager. 

The key to retention is for front-line managers to behave like leaders.

All Turnover Isn’t Bad.

One of the most significant mistakes leaders make is that believe they have to retain a team member that hurts their culture because the talent pool is limited. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Team members who aren’t willing to sacrifice their interests for the team might seem to help in the short term, but they hurt in the long run. 

There is never a good time for a leader to retain selfish team members.

Now contrary to popular belief, people do change. Especially when it comes to grasping the consequences of one’s actions. If a team member is struggling to meet or exceed the standard required to be a part of a team, make them aware. Then coach and give them a chance to make adjustments before deciding to move on.  

Be Proactive Around Talent.

A recent Korn Ferry study found by 2030, there will be a global human talent shortage of more than 85 million people, resulting in $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenues. This means the talent shortfall is here to stay, and the employment market will continue to be hyper-aggressive. What’s required to thrive in a hyper-aggressive talent market is proactivity in seeking and developing people.  

Lawrence Bossidy said it well, “nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies.”

Not only is Bossidy right, but it’s also never been more critical than it is today. A relentless approach to seeking talent and an equally persistent effort to develop people inside the organization are required to succeed today.  

A relentless approach to seeking talent and an equally persistent effort to develop people inside the organization are required to succeed today. 

Closing

The “how-to” strategies to improve retention, good turnover, and successful recruiting are endless.  If you want to know if your organization is doing a good job, look for these as proof:

  • Leadership development programs
  • Best in class technology tools
  • Core values highlighted in the hiring and promotion process
  • Culture of coaching and mentoring

I hope that instead of blaming, complaining, and acting as if people are disposable, you will do your part to make a difference in people right where you are.  Use the opportunities in front of you to “bloom where you are planted” because that’s exactly what the best leaders do. 

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

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.

Why Great Leaders Share Knowledge With Their Team (and the masses)

Think different

Over the years, leaders leverage a wide variety of experiences that they turn into actionable knowledge. Of course, it’s one thing to obtain knowledge. What you do with it is something else entirely.

Too often, professionals hoard knowledge and keep it to themselves. After all, they put in all the work to acquire it. Why should someone else get the benefits without putting in the blood, sweat, and tears themselves?

In reality, however, the best leaders take the opposite approach. They relish the opportunity to share their wisdom with others — even people outside their company.

The best leaders relish the opportunity to share their wisdom with others. 

What is a Thought Leader?

The term thought leader has been overblown and might even be a bit scary to most people. In reality, thought leadership is simply the expression of ideas that demonstrate you have expertise in a particular field, area, or topic. 

Thought leadership is demonstrated in two ways:

  1. Externally – Typically demonstrated through large social media followings. Ideas and insights change the behaviors of large groups of people in all different industries.
  2. Internally – Typically demonstrated within a company or team. Ideas and insights influence smaller and often more tangible relationships.

Regardless of which one resonates with you more, as long as you can be a trusted source to educate and inspire people with your ideas, you either are or can be a thought leader.  

In fact, the best leaders become thought leaders not for money, fame, or accolades but for one big reason; to help others.

You Have Insight to Share

Having had the opportunity to teach and coach thousands of leaders, the most common cause of not sharing insight with others or becoming a thought leader isn’t selfishness; it’s often imposter syndrome.  

In many ways, I don’t blame people for feeling this way. Everyone sharing their highlight reels on social media has tricked people into comparing themselves to others. This comparison causes people to believe they aren’t good or worthy enough to share their expertise with others. 

The thing is, your hard work and professional experiences are what make you an expert. While the best leaders understand that they can always learn from others, it’s okay to recognize that there are areas where you have expertise that can help others be more effective and successful. 

The best leaders share expertise to help others be more effective and successful

I recently read a great example of this in the book “60 Days to LinkedIn Mastery” by Josh Steimle. In a book that is focused on teaching people who feel like relative novices on LinkedIn how to optimize their profile, Steimle writes the following:

“You don’t have to know more than everyone else in order to teach — you only need to know more than your audience. However little you feel you know about LinkedIn, there are thousands of people who know less than you do. That means you can help them. As you help others, you’ll become more analytical in your thinking. You’ll create experiments, you’ll study, and you’ll learn more about LinkedIn than I or anyone else can teach you.”

This quote is just as applicable to any other type of knowledge business leaders have. But it also hints at a crucial point — that sharing your knowledge can benefit you, not just your audience.

Why Share Your Knowledge?

Transferring knowledge to your team and others is one of the best ways to create an actual win-win scenario. Here are a few benefits of making this a habit.

1. You Act Like a Leader 

Whether you think of yourself as a leader or not, you behave like one when you share wisdom with others. A leader is someone whose actions inspire, empower and serve in order to elevate others. It’s a sacred responsibility for someone to call you a leader, and the only way others do that is if they trust and respect you. 

It’s a sacred responsibility for someone to call you a leader, and the only way others do that is if people trust and respect you. 

In an interview with Bobby Starks, I shared some expertise to help inspire managers to act as leaders.

2. You Improve Your Communication Skills 

Sharing knowledge with others shouldn’t start with benefiting yourself but mastering your communication skills is a fantastic byproduct. Regardless of your industry or role, being a highly effective communicator will supercharge your career. 

Regardless of your industry or role, being a highly effective communicator will supercharge your career. 

You may be surprised to discover that communication skills are among the three most important leadership skills for professionals to demonstrate, according to preliminary research by LearnLoft

The simple act of writing, speaking, teaching, or coaching others provides invaluable repetitions to hone your skills. If you are interested in resources to improve your communications skills check out the Effective Communication for Leaders Workshop

3. You Improve the Team’s Performance and Loyalty 

Communicating knowledge is one of the best ways to enhance the performance of your team. Because the performance of a team is a reflection of the communication they receive. 

The performance of a team is a reflection of the communication they receive.  

As you share time and knowledge, you demonstrate through your words and actions your heart for others. Your team members will respect and be motivated to give their best effort. Better yet, you will empower your team members to use this newfound knowledge to improve their performance continually.

4. You Foster a More Collaborative Culture

As a leader, your example sets the tone for your team’s culture, including how employees share knowledge. In this case, a willingness to share your knowledge helps create a more collaborative and elite culture. 

Great leaders share their expertise with others to help create a collaborative and elite culture.

A research report from CultureIQ found that companies with strong collaborative cultures had a 20 percent higher quality rating from employees. This type of positive culture is key to attracting, retaining, and nurturing top talent. 

Closing

“Sharing is caring” is a commonly used idiom — often when parents try to get their child to share their toys with a sibling. But like so many other childhood lessons, this isn’t something you should put aside as you get older.

As a leader, sharing your knowledge and experiences ultimately becomes one of the best ways to demonstrate that you want to help others. Keeping your knowledge to yourself doesn’t help anyone. But as you open up and share with others, you will benefit yourself and others in the long run.

The only question remaining is what knowledge are you going to share with others today?

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

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 Frustration Like the Best Leaders

Frustrated business woman sitting at the table in office.

We have all been there at one point or another; there is probably something right now that is frustrating you. It may not be, I am joining “the great resignation” club bad, but it is still a consistent struggle with someone or something at work.  

Maybe it’s a team member who isn’t giving their best effort. Perhaps it’s your boss who micromanages every move. Whatever the case, it started as a minor inconvenience, and now it nags at you daily.  

It turns out, your capacity to overcome frustrations is a sign that you are an effective leader. Early research by LearnLoft indicates that the ability to handle adversity is one of the most overlooked traits of successful leaders. 

The ability to overcome adversity like frustration is a good predictor of effective leadership.

What is Frustration and its Causes?

Frustration is defined as the feeling of being upset or annoyed. There are two states of frustration that professionals can find themselves in.

  1. Consistent State
  2. Momentary State

When someone is in a consistent state of frustration, they get negative and pessimistic, which never allows them to live up to their potential. 

Momentary frustration happens to all of us, but it isn’t always a bad thing since it can be a helpful indicator of problems. As a result, frustration can act as a motivator to change. However, when that momentary frustration turns to anger, depression, elevated levels of stress, and resentment, it becomes destructive. 

Now that we know, frustration is a feeling that can be destructive, it’s essential to recognize some common sources of frustration in the workplace:

  1. Communication Issues – When two or more people don’t have consistent communication that is clear, concise, and conclusive, it’s a recipe for frustration for one or both parties. (Want to be a more effective communicator? Check out the Effective Communication for Leaders Workshop)
  2. Lack of Meaningful Change – When things stay the same, or there isn’t a viable path to improvement, it causes people to get annoyed or even upset. If employees start to say, “It’s always going to be this way, nothing is going to change here,” it’s a bad spot to be.
  3. Limited Opportunities for Career Advancement – When team members feel there is nowhere to go beyond their current role, it causes frustration. This is particularly challenging in organizations with less than 100 employees.
  4. Process or Technology Problems – Inefficient and manual process that can be automated or improved is a bain in many professionals existence. “This is so manual and repetitive; there has to be a better way to do this.” 

How the Best Leaders Handle Frustration Like a Professional

If you want to stop being frustrated, you aren’t going to hope your way there. You have to start acting differently. The idea of hoping things change is a terrible strategy. As the late Rick Page used to say, “hope is not a strategy.”  

The best leaders know, hope isn’t a strategy.

A solid and consistent strategy followed by action is the best way to overcome frustration. The best part is, anyone can adopt new methods and then develop their skills to help them be successful at it.  

Overcoming frustration requires you to take action.

Now that you’re aware that action is the key, here are some things you can do about frustration to model the best leaders.

1. Add the Truth

When you notice a team member is showing signs of frustration, don’t hope it goes away. It’s time to add the truth to conversations. While it might seem like an obvious strategy, the majority of people would rather avoid the truth for fear of what they might hear or what might happen. As a mentor wisely told me, “Our ability to sense truth is amazing, and the truth needs no crutches.”

The best leaders embrace talking about the truth because they know the best path to remove frustrations is to add the truth. 

The best way to remove frustration is to add the truth.  

There are a few ways to get to the truth; first, ask yourself or team members to communicate the source of their frustration. Second, listen or seek to understand what might be causing it.  

2. Acknowledge the Root Cause and Develop Solutions

Rarely will our first pass at communicating the root cause of our frustration come out clearly. It’s worth the mental bandwidth to get to the source by asking that hard question of “why.” A strategy I go through with some of my executive coaching clients is called the “Two-Level Why” All I do is ask executives to take their feelings of frustration two levels lower than they start.  

Here is a simple example:

No alt text provided for this image

It’s a short and straightforward example, but if you get in the habit of leveraging the “two-level why” with yourself or your team, you will get to the root cause of the frustration more often and get to solutions. 

3. Perseverance Over Perfection

Knowing we are human and emotions are part of what makes us great, it’s impossible to remove frustration altogether. So what’s required is to persevere instead of expecting perfection.  

If you are expecting perfection, you will constantly be frustrated.  

One of my favorite strategies for this is a simple, practical resolution to say to yourself. It goes like this: “I will not be frustrated anymore by things others do or do not do, but rather I will take ownership over things in my control and be proactive in finding ways to reconcile them.”

A simple affirmation like this gives you the power to overcome frustration versus blaming others.  

Closing

Frustration and adversity are guarantees in life. Your ability to overcome them and create the best outcomes for all those involved is vital in determining your success.  

Take an honest look at the things that are frustrating you right now. Are you doing all you can adding the truth, getting to the root cause, and persevering without expecting perfection? If the answer isn’t what you want it to be, now is the time to act before the frustration gets to a point where you join the “great resignation” club.

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

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.

Take the Free Leadership Style Quiz? Join over 60k 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.

How to Handle Fear Like the Best Leaders

courage

Do you remember how it felt when you had to make your first big professional decision? Whether it was to fire someone or make a significant purchasing decision, chances are, you felt fearful, nervous, and a bit skeptical.

While these are natural human emotions, figuring out how to consistently overcome them is a key to your progress. The reason is simple; your mind is more powerful than you think it is. It often is the difference between success and failure.  

Take Martha, an experienced salesperson at a software company, for example. She was outstanding in her role and had been a high performer for over five years. However, she yearned for more influence and impact on others in her career. So much so, she kept a leadership notebook of lessons she wanted to practice or avoid when she got her opportunity to lead.  

When a sales director position opened up in the firm, she immediately got excited and dreamed of what she would do in the role. But when the email went out about applying for the job, she didn’t respond right away. Instead, she doubted whether she was ready and if she was good enough to lead other people. She allowed her fear not to pursue the job, and one of her colleagues with less experience ended up as her boss.  

Now, there is no way to tell if Matha would have gotten the job over her colleague, but her mind, not her skills, eliminated her from a job she wanted. She allowed fear to win over courage. All her leadership notebook was missing was a simple lesson:

Rejecting fear and choosing courage dictates your future.

What is Fear?

Fear is defined as an unpleasant feeling triggered by the perception of danger, real or imagined. According to Arash Javanbakht and Lisa Saab, in their article in the Smithsonian, What Happens in the Brain When We Feel Fear, “Fear reaction starts in the brain and spreads through the body to make adjustments for the best defense or flight reaction. The fear response starts in a region of the brain called the amygdala. This almond-shaped set of nuclei in the temporal lobe of the brain is dedicated to detecting the emotional salience of the stimuli – how much something stands out to us.”

When your amygdala activates through seeing or experiencing a feeling, it naturally triggers a fear response. Ryan Holiday, the author of Courage is Calling, wrote, “No human is without fear. What’s required is the ability to rise above it in the moments that matter.”

Holiday is correct; the most remarkable leaders on the planet have an amygdala in their brain, just like you and me. However, they recognize the battle against fear is permanent, and they have to overcome it constantly. 

The battle against fear is permanent. Choosing courage to overcome fear is temporary.

Why the Best Leaders Choose Courage

Regardless of how experienced you are, no one is immune to feelings of doubt and fear. However, the best leaders don’t allow it to stop them. Roy T. Bennet said it well, “Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart!”

Leaders today, unlike previous generations, have been thrust into a hyper uncertain work environment which causes higher levels of fear and anxiety. They have to overcome uncertainty in their minds and help their team members do the same as well. 

Uncertainty for leaders is when they face unmeasurable and unpredictable risks, often caused by things outside their control. However, if leaders had all the data and there was no uncertainly, not only would they not be required, there would be no decisions, there would just be foregone conclusions. 

In a keynote to global leaders, I told them, “uncertainty is why leadership is needed.”

“Uncertainty is why leadership is needed.”

The best leaders embrace uncertainty and choose courage because they would rather be part of the solution, not a bystander. They would rather be the “man in man in the arena” rather than sitting on the sidelines, allowing others to make a positive difference.  

The only way for this to happen is for leaders to reject fear and choose courage. I defined courage in Building the Best as “Being frightened and deciding to do it anyway.” The root of the word courage is cor- the Latin word for heart. Getting to people’s hearts is precisely where the best leaders start to separate themselves from others. 

Don’t Stop at Yourself, Help Others

Not only are the best leaders able to choose courage for themselves, but they can also inspire others to do the same by getting to their hearts. They breathe life into their team members by encouraging, challenging, and empowering them. All in an effort to help them learn and grow

Even though leaders know this isn’t easy, great leaders embrace failure and don’t accept fear as a decision on their team.  

Great leaders don’t accept fear as a decision they expect courage.  

Closing

It would be common thinking to believe the best leaders reject fear and choose courage naturally. This wouldn’t be true. Fear will always make itself felt because that’s how our brains are naturally wired.  

Rejecting fear and choosing courage is a decision, and it’s learned. It makes me reflect on some wise words about parenting. A mentor told me, “John, your job isn’t to keep your kids safe. Your job is to make them courageous.”

Whether you are leading kids or team members at work, people feel more engaged and alive when they make courageous decisions and it’s often someone else that helps us make them.

Just think back to Martha; if she had a leader or a coach who helped her overcome her fear and choose courage, where might she be today in her professional career?

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

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.

Take the Free Leadership Style Quiz? Join over 60k 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.

Why Great Leaders Know Teamwork is a Key to Their Success

Conceptual for brainstorming and teamwork

Golf is one of the last sports you would expect to glean leadership lessons. It’s primarily an individual sport, with the exception of one week every other year during the Ryder Cup. If you aren’t familiar, the tournament is filled with spirited competition and drama as 24 of the world’s greatest players from the USA and Europe compete in a team competition.

Whether you are a golf fan or not, a unique leadership challenge that both teams’ captains face has similarities to what many organizational leaders encounter.  

They work to get individuals to act and behave like a team to produce the best outcome for the group.

The ability for leaders to do this successfully isn’t easy and is a skill that very few do consistently well. However, teamwork is the remedy, and it’s achieved when each individual buys into the group’s greater good over their self-interest. 

Take Amy, a sales manager in a technology company, as an example. I started working with her as a coach when she was hired to take over a group of 15 sales reps. At the time, only 20% of the team was hitting their quota, collectively they hadn’t hit their sales target in five years, and the engagement was an abysmal 57%. 

As excited as she was about her first ample leadership opportunity, the uphill challenge didn’t scare her because management jobs rarely open up when things are going well. She jumped right in, got to know her team members personally, made some tough decisions about letting a few reps go, and brought in some fresh faces, then got to work in developing teamwork.

She invested time, energy, and money to bring the reps together in person once a quarter and created weekly meetings where each person was an active participant. During those crucial interactions, she manufactured human connection, gained buy-in, and built the belief that the team could collectively achieve a big goal.  

Little by little, the results started to come together, and by the end of her second year on the job, 80% of the reps hit their quota, the group exceeded their sales target by 40%, and the engagement rate jumped 84%.  

Amy understood the key to her leadership success was getting each individual to buy into the group’s greater good over their own self-interest.

“Great teams are made up of individuals that buy into the group’s greater good over their self-interest.”

Focus on Teamwork

When team members are authentic, collaborate, and challenge each other, the results are almost always superior to working alone. Teamwork is when people bring their authentic selves and skills together to produce excellent outcomes for the group. 

Teamwork is when people bring their authentic selves and skills together to produce excellent outcomes for the group. 

Looking back at the most significant achievements in sports or business, you will always find great teamwork was behind it. There is a plethora of research that supports the essential nature of teamwork. 

If you want to improve teamwork, here are a few ideas to get individuals to work as a team.  

1. Get Obsessive Buy-In Towards a Shared Goal

A team, by definition, means to come together as a team to achieve a common goal. Success won’t follow if leaders don’t define a common goal that team members care about achieving.  

If leaders don’t define a shared goal that team members care about achieving, success won’t follow.  

The keyword here is “shared.” While it will be tempting to stand at the top of the mountain and scream a big, hairy, audacious goal to your team, if they aren’t bought into, help define what’s possible, and determine what it would take to achieve it, they won’t give their best effort. 

In the example of the Ryder Cup, the ultimate shared goal is simple, take home the Ryder Cup Trophy at the end of the tournament. However, every team competing since 1927 has had that goal. The key as a Ryder Cup captain or as a team leader at work, is getting obsessive buy-in from each individual about achieving the goal.  

2. Manufacture Human Connection

Teamwork can’t be achieved without people getting to know each other and working well together. Too often, leaders assume and take for granted the quality of relationships between members of their team. Here is the hard truth. Just because members of the same team are in meetings together, doesn’t mean they know or care about each other.  

Just because team members are in meetings together, doesn’t mean they know or care about each other.  

Conflict and diverse thinking are essential elements of teamwork. Because of this, developing relationships built on the foundation of trust and respect is a requirement. While it might be uncomfortable at first, part of a leader’s job is to manufacture human connection and create a sense of belonging between team members. There are all kinds of strategies for this, but my favorite from our leadership workshops is the hero, highlight, hardship exercise. 

3. Inspire Personal Growth That Benefits the Team

When people are growing, they are much more likely to buy into the leader that is helping them do it. So often, we think about growth in terms of a company, but rarely do we think about it in terms of people.

Personal growth is the foundation of motivation. It’s hard to motivate team members who aren’t growing. Personal growth is the foundation of any successful professional. 

It’s hard to motivate team members who aren’t growing. Personal growth is the foundation of any successful professional.  

Leaders have a unique advantage of creating healthy competition between team members to fuel personal growth and development. In the case of the Ryder Cup, successful captains have created pods of smaller team members in the build-up of the competition to fuel personal growth and performance. 

Closing

There is nothing easy about leadership and getting individuals to work as a team. As many stories there are about sales managers like Amy, there are more stories of managers who have the opposite outcomes.  

Since you are thinking, reading, and looking for specific ideas to apply in your leadership approach should provide you confidence that you are on the right track. 

What did I leave out? 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.

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.