How the Best Leaders Handle Disappointment

Businessman sitting in thought over puzzle wrong business model, unprofitability and inefficiency

Losing a deal, a job being terminated, losing an election, a failed business or project. This list stirs up some serious emotions, specifically disappointment. We’ve all experienced it in various shapes and sizes. While disappointment is hard enough when times are good, our current pandemic environment has many of our emotions close to the surface, exacerbating these feelings. So, how do we handle disappointment the right way? 

Let’s start on even ground by defining disappointment. Disappointment is the gap between our expectations and reality. That gap is then filled by emotions like sadness, frustration, anger, or even spite. While the disappointment gap is not the place you want to stay, you get to choose whether it crushes your dream or drives it. The best leaders use disappointment to drive their dream instead of crushing it:

Disappointment Drives the Dream

Take Dustin Johnson, an uber-talented American golfer, as a prime example. He three-putted on the 72nd hole in the 2015 US Open to lose by one shot. Fast forward five years to Johnson capturing his second Major by winning the 2020 Masters tournament. His 2015 loss fueled his dream to become the #1 golfer in the world and eventually allowed him to slip on the exclusive green jacket.  

How to Handle Disappointment

Using disappointment to drive your dreams is a skill. It’s like a muscle that gets stronger every time it is stressed. When you experience disappointment, you are tested and stretched, which expands your capacity. As I have written before:

Only leaders who are tested become great.

Experiencing disappointment is a part of being human. However, it’s felt most intensely by people, as Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “ by those who are actually in the arena.” The best way to handle disappointment is to prepare and plan for it because it’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when. If you are currently experiencing disappointment or want to be better prepared the next time it happens, here are some things to remember:

Never Act Permanently Based on Short-term Emotion

You might be thinking, “Thank you, captain obvious.” However, just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it’s easy. Disappointment is filled with complicated emotions that even the best leaders struggle with at the moment. The challenge is not acting on those short-term emotions. 

Instead, subscribe to the “48 Hour Wait.” Before making any permanent decision, allow yourself a minimum of 48 hours to process so you can think clearly and make better decisions. 

Disappointment helps you better understand what is important to you, as long as you examine the cause of the disappointment. 

This “48 Hour Wait” will help you better understand what is truly important while taking the time to examine the cause of the disappointment. Often, people uncover that they’ve put a false sense of importance on things that don’t actually matter to them in the long-term.

Add Fuel for the Fire

Most people take those feelings of disappointment and shove them in a drawer, never again to be reopened. Great leaders harness those feelings and use them as fuel, keeping their internal fire lit for long periods. It reminds me of the Zig Ziglar quote, “People say motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why I recommend it daily.”

I spoke to an incredible group of leaders this week who opened themselves up to the SkillLoft leadership assessment. Since each leader received feedback from their team, the key message was this: “Things that initially look like a burden are actually a gift. When leaders get authentic feedback from their team, it’s a gift.”

Things that initially look like a burden are actually a gift

It’s their responsibility to use the feedback from their teams, whether positive or negative, as a gift to fuel their continuous growth and improvement.  

Learn, or It Was For Nothing

The only thing worse than experiencing disappointment once is experiencing disappointment again for the same reason. After a disappointment, open a journal and write down things you experienced or want to learn. Allow yourself the freedom to answer the following questions honestly and without judgment: 

What did I underestimate?

Where did I make mistakes?

How will I do it differently next time?

Do I truly care about this enough to proceed again?

Perhaps you had a not-so-recent experience. You can still go back and assess that situation. Anything that is going to prevent the possibility of experiencing disappointment the second time should be leveraged.

Closing

There is nothing fun about experiencing disappointment. However, if you don’t act permanently based on short-term emotions, ensure your disappointment is fuel for your fire, and learn from it, I promise you will come out better on the other side.  

Regardless of what you are disappointed about, I urge you to refuse to lower your expectations. This world needs people who want great things to happen and are willing to be active participants to make them happen. 

What strategies have you used successfully or advice would you give to others on how to handle disappointment? 

Now is the Time to Lead Your Best. Don’t wait on your company to provide another leadership development program Join the Ultimate Leadership Academy. Make 2021 your best leadership year ever with proven courses and weekly leadership lessons.

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

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

How to Believe in Yourself in Order to Lead

Wooden chess pawn with king shadow

“Without self-belief, there is no leadership.”

In season 26 episode 4, John Eades covers the important topic of developing your self-belief. 


Listen on iTunes


Your self-belief is one of the most critical factors in determining how successful you will be in life. But don’t just take it from me. Some of the all-time greats in business and sports have shed some light on the importance of belief and confidence.

Quotes to Remember About Self-Belief

Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.

Henry Ford

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”

Arthur Ashe

“To excel at the highest level—or any level, really—you need to believe in yourself, and hands down, one of the biggest contributors to my self-confidence has been private coaching.”

Stephen Curry

Confidence is the most important single factor in this game.

Jack Nicklaus

What is Belief?

Researchers have had a difficult time agreeing on a common definition of belief. To ensure we are on the same page, here is my favorite: A belief is nothing more than a reinforced pattern in your brain.

This is important because it shows that we aren’t born with beliefs; they are developed when certain things are reinforced and become a pattern in our brain. The reason this is such a big deal is that you can reprogram your brain to reinforce new patterns.

Bandura’s Theory

There has been some incredible work done in the last 50 years about self-belief and why it’s so important. Positivepsycology.com has been leading the way. In a recent article, they detail the work of Dr. Albert Bandura and what came to be known as Bandura’s Theory.

Bandura’s theory states that self-efficacy is built on one’s beliefs in the likelihood of future success; those who believe they have the ability to influence the events of their lives have high self-efficacy, while those who feel they are not in control and have little to no impact on what will happen to them in the future have low self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977).”

The key here is you must own your beliefs.

How to Improve Your Self-Belief

Recognize Negative Thoughts.

We all have negative thoughts that pass through our heads. Instead of trying to ensure we never have them, the key is not to give them oxygen.   Simply recognize the thoughts for what they are and replace them with something better. This will allow positive beliefs to become a reinforced pattern in our brain instead of the negative ones.   

Challenge Yourself to Do Something You Have Never Done.

A coaching client I was working with is one of the highest achievers I have ever met, but she was struggling with belief during the pandemic. Instead of allowing this struggle to continue, I reminded her, nothing will grow belief more than achievement.  She loved this idea, so she challenged herself to do something outside of her comfort zone. 

Now only did she sign up for the Ultimate Leadership Academy, but she committed to making ten prospecting calls a day with a new attitude and a new script. It wasn’t until her fifth day that the challenge paid off. She closed one of her most significant accounts to date all because she challenged herself to achieve.

Embrace the Failure.

Since achievement improves belief, challenging yourself to do things you have never done will inevitably result in some degree of failure. While those failures hurt at the moment, “Failure is not final, failure is feedback.” 

Show you courage and determination to not allow those failures to make you quit. Instead turn them into to fuel to keep you learning and growing. Winston Churchhill famously said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Closing

Beliefs are nothing more than a reinforced pattern in your brain. To lead yourself and others, it requires a pattern of good thoughts being reinforced on an ongoing basis. One of my favorite strategies to help with this is a simple phrase you can say to yourself every morning, “I am built for this.” Give it a try each day, so it becomes a new pattern in your brain.

Virtual Building the Best Leader Workshop For the first time, we are offering the Building the Best Leader Workshop virtually on July 28th-29th from 1:00-3:30 EST! If you lead a team, now is the time to elevate the way you lead Register Here.

Download the Leading Remote Teams Toolkit for free Here.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company making virtual training easy and effective. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of  Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success and host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

How to Lead Your Remote Team

Remote work concept. Designer demonstrates color swatch

The snowball effect has been in full force. First, Facebook made a work from home announcement, then Google, Twitter, and Salesforce followed up with policies of their own. While these companies’ WFH policies are slightly different, managers will be leading remote teams for the foreseeable future.  

On the surface, this is great for professionals because it provides built-in flexibility to control their commute and work schedule. However, when you dig deeper, it exposes some real challenges for people in positions of leadership. Sustaining productivity, performance, teamwork, and culture are all more complicated in a remote work setting.  

After studying remote work and helping managers prepare for their changing responsibilities, one thing is abundantly clear:

Most people manage a remote team, but few lead one.

Managing focuses on numbers, KPI’s, schedules, and performance management. These are obviously important when it comes to remote work, and often can be automated or be executed successfully, even by bad bosses. Leadership, on the other hand, is about inspiring, empowering, and serving others. The best leaders elevate others to levels they didn’t think possible.  

Challenges for leaders of remote teams

Leading this way is hard, but it’s even harder with a remote team due to the inability to gather the team together, in person. In a recent episode of the WorkLife Podcast with Adam Grant, he covered two primary challenges of remote teams that leaders need to be aware of:

Shared identity. Teams need to feel they are all in this together. When working remotely, it is easier than ever to feel like you’re on an island and lose sight of achieving things as a group instead of individually. Grant said it so well: “We bond best when our individual actions contribute to a common purpose.”

Shared understanding. Individuals need to feel alignment with what a team is doing and what it values. Since each remote team member will have a different personal situation and remote work set up, having a shared understanding is essential.

While both seem simple on the surface, they are difficult for leaders of remote teams to achieve. If you are faced with leading a remote team, here are a few best practices to help ensure you are leading and not just managing:

Connect them to a shared cause and objective

The verb form of the word “team” means coming together as a group to achieve a common goal. Setting a clear cause and an objective for a team is instrumental in achieving higher levels of success.  

Do not go another minute without being clear on why your team is doing what it’s doing and what you’re working towards achieving. It’s easy for people to get lost in the monotony of their everyday work without considering how their work impacts the larger organization and customers. 

If you’re unsure how to communicate this to your team, start by answering these two complicated yet straightforward questions:

  • What do you do, and why do you do it? (Hint: it’s got to be more than making money)
  • What goal would your team be excited about achieving?

It’s easy to skim past those two questions, but I’m challenging you to pause. Reread those two questions and ask yourself if each member of your team could answer them. If the answer is no, you have some work to do.

Clarify remote 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 for your team since you are working remotely. I urge you to reject this temptation and instead maintain or even raise the standard. Clarity your team standards around work schedules, team and one-on-one meetings, and communication methods.  

Every leader of a remote team should have a standing weekly team meeting; Don’t just stop there; leverage a weekly one-on-one scheduled meeting each week with every team member. Use a tool like Peoplebox to help you be an effective leader during these interactions. 

Coach for development 

Since so much of remote 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. The late great John Whitmore took the formal definition even further saying:

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

Be present. 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.  

While being an effective coach isn’t easy, it will not only pay off in the short term but will leave a lasting impact. If you ever find yourself veering away from coaching your people ask yourself this simple question. “What is the value I can give the person in front of me right now that’s meaningful to them?”

I have included a list of remote coaching questions to get you started:

  • I’ve struggled to unplug from work since we are now remote, how are you managing it?
  • Do you have a proper work setup at home?  
  • Which aspect of remote work do you enjoy the most?
  • Is there anything I can do to help you be more productive when you’re working from home? 
  • What’s the biggest challenge you face while working remotely? 
  • How often are you speaking with other team members? 

Closing

You are capable of leading your remote team through this unprecedented time. Embrace the discomfort of your virtual environment and elevate your people to higher levels of performance.

Download the Leading Remote Teams Toolkit for Free Here.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company making virtual training easy and effective. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of  Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success and host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

Why This Pandemic is The Best Test of Your Leadership Skills

Picture of business meeting in conference room

As I dialed in, I couldn’t help but think we should reschedule the call. Not only was I having a problem thinking about anything other than the coronavirus pandemic, but also talking about developing leadership skills during this time seemed insignificant. To my surprise, Susan had a completely different outlook and perspective.

“John, I know there is a lot going on right now, but I am so excited to be here. I have never proactively taken the opportunity to develop my leadership skills. Now it seems like a requirement to handle the current climate.”

While her words didn’t evaporate all of the challenges ahead, they ignited my mindset and reminded me: 

When times are uncertain is when leadership is needed most.  

Susan’s commitment to the development of her leadership skills during this time is crucial because the current environment is where her skills need to shine.  

For example, most stockbrokers can grow money in a market that’s good, but the ones who make the difference can limit the damage in a downturn. The ones that limit damage are those who continue to develop their knowledge and skills on an on-going basis. Leadership is no different. It’s easy to lead during the great times, but the best leaders (the ones who continuously invest in their skills) shine during times of uncertainty and adversity.  

Show your skills

Websters defines a skill as the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance. While so many professionals care about their technical skills in the workplace (and they should), it’s the leadership skills that are essential in uncertain times.  

The best measure of your current leadership skills is how you lead during the time of need. Ask yourself, “How am I helping my people handle and reject fear right now?”   

People fear what they don’t know, understand, or are frightened by. Fear is the emotion of the mind – because the six inches between our ears paints a picture of all that could go wrong and all of the different scenarios that might happen. The keyword here is “might,” its the story we begin to tell ourselves to keep us safe and comfortable. Here is where fear gets complicated. It not only infiltrates your mind, but it seeps down to each person on your team, often in different ways and with different intensity levels.  

Your leadership skills require you to communicate with your team how to best handle their current fears, and how to reject them in order to create the best possible outcome for everyone involved. I highlighted some strategies for leading others in uncertain times here. 

Use this time to grow

In 1665, Cambridge University closed because of the Bubonic Plague. During that time, Isaac Newton developed calculus AND formulated the notion of gravity as a universal force.  

Newton didn’t settle into fear and do nothing. Imagine what you could do! When business slows down, an opportunity arises to put your focus on things outside of your typical responsibilities. Take advantage of this time to develop your skills and the skills of your people. 

I have written a lot and often speak about Growth20, which is committing to 20 minutes a day to grow your mind and skills. During a slow down, you might increase it to a Growth60. Instead of binge-watching a Netflix show, read a book, join the Ultimate Leadership (Virtual) Academy, subscribe to Masterclass, dust off a project you’ve abandoned, or help team members develop their skills. The options are endless.

Closing

While there is no doubt the current environment isn’t as good as a month ago, you get the opportunity to have the mindset of Susan. Are you going to show and grow your leadership skills during this time or are you going to miss the opportunity?

What are the ways in which you have shown your leadership skills in the last few days? How are you going to grow your leadership skills during the coronavirus pandemic?

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

Virtual Leadership Development: Join the Ultimate Leadership Academy to develop your leadership skills. Registration closes March 20th.

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

Why Your Mindset Matters at Work and Life

Pensive woman got the right mindset for business

“Your mindset plays a dramatic role in your success at work and in life.”

In season 24 episode 8, we give you some insight into why your mindset is so important in your work and life.


Are leaders born or made? I highlighted the research done by Leadership Quarterly in Building the Best which exposed leaders aren’t born but instead use a combination of genetics and development.  For many people, this is a major change in thinking, but it’s the only way to think if you are going to get better from a leadership perspective or for that matter, anything.

The development of leadership skills isn’t all about just reading a book or practicing the concepts within it over the rest of your career.  Instead, the most important factor if you want to improve is the brain and how you think. It could be summarized as having a growth mindset. The growth mindset theory was brought to prominence by Carol S. Dweck, a Stanford Psychology professor, and in simple terms, it suggests that “we can grow our brain’s capacity to learn and solve problems.” 

Which poses the question, what’s the difference between a growth and a fixed mindset?

Fixed vs. growth mindset

The differences between a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset are stark. At the simplest form, a fixed mindset believes intelligence is static or something you are born with where a growth mindset believes it can be developed.

Mindset fuels company growth as well

In recent years the idea of a growth mindset has been credited with helping Satya Nadella turn around Microsoft. Starting in 2014 when Nadella became CEO, he encouraged the entire company to adopt a growth mindset. They have gone as far as evaluating employees’ performance-based partly on how much they help their colleagues succeed.

While Microsoft is on the cutting edge of using mindset to fuel growth, they aren’t alone. They are a working case study to help other companies adopt a similar approach to compete in today’s business world.

How you can adopt a growth mindset

If you’re ready to adopt a growth mindset for yourself or to pass onto your people, wrap your heart and mind that your mind is never a finished product.  Not only will you deal with failure more effectively but you will be growing in a positive way every day rather than being in neutral or going backward.

We are all born with unique DNA. I started with a different makeup than you did.  It might be easier for me to handle pressure than it is for you because of my DNA. But you can still learn how to handle pressure effectively. You might have been born with better leadership DNA than I did but I can still learn how to be a more effective leader.

Unfortunately, the majority of professionals fall into the category of having a fixed mindset over a growth mindset.  They fall into the trap of believing that talent wins every time and they were either born with the ability to get the job done or they aren’t.  

If you find yourself in this position, focus on a pattern of what behavior when growth happens; it’s what I call AOL, an acronym that stands for action, outcome, learning. 

Conclusion

Take action about things you believe you can’t do. Once you take action there will be an outcome as a result and regardless of the result being positive or negative, you get the opportunity to learn from it. this will allow you grow and get better the next time you take the action.

Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? What have you done to successfully make the leap?

Join the Next Ultimate Leadership Academy If you are ready to elevate the way you lead, join the next virtual Ultimate Leadership Academy.

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

Why Generosity Is The Essential Attribute of Leadership

business persons plan a project

The business world lost Jack Welch on March 1st, 2020. He was a great businessman and professional who drastically evolved as a leader during his 84 years. Luckily he left behind some great leadership and management lessons.

During Welch’s 20 year tenure at GE, he was able to increase the company’s value by 4,000 percent, growing its market value from $12 billion to $410 billion. You could make an argument that this impact was one of the greatest achievements in the history of CEOs.

Here is where it gets interesting. Welch was considered by most to be a ruthless and a results-driven leader. So much so, he was nicknamed “Neutron Jack” because of his aggressive firing policy in the mid ’80s (known as the “vitality curve”).  

While the majority of organizations no longer use the “vitality curve” method, organizational leaders have learned from and implemented strategies from Welch’s experience. A couple of years ago, I learned a leadership lesson from “Neutron Jack” that I never thought I would.

Tim Ferriss interviewed Frank Blake the Former CEO and Chairman of Home Depot (a great leader in his own right) and former direct report at GE to Jack Welch. During the interview, Blake recalled a story in which he asked Welch, “Of all of the attributes of leadership, if you had to weigh them all and pick one, what is the single most important attribute of leadership?” 

“The single most important attribute of leadership is generosity.” – Jack Welch

What is generosity?

Most people think of generosity in terms of money but it’s defined differently. Websters defines it as the quality of being kind, understanding and not selfish; the willingness to give valuable things to others. This is how Welch was using the term to describe how important it is for leaders to be fueled by the success of others.

If you want to be a more generous leader as Welch suggests, here are a few ideas:

Model servant leadership.

Through all the interviews I have done on the “Follow My Lead” podcast and working with companies of all sizes to help improve the leadership skills of their people, I have come to define leadership in Building the Best this way.

Someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve in order to ELEVATE OTHERS over an extended period of time.

Now it’s one thing to know this definition, it’s completely different to model it and live it out for your people every single day. Instead of waking up thinking about yourself, do your very best to think about your team.

Give of your time, not money.

One of my favorite quotes ever is from John Crudele about parenting, “Kids spell love T-I-M-E.” If you want to be a more generous leader, start with giving more of your time. There is absolutely nothing you can do to replace the time you spend transferring knowledge and getting to know people one-on-one. By the time you spend with people, you might uncover money is needed, but let that be the last resort.

Seek out opportunities to fuel the success of others.

I believe with all my heart, leaders don’t create followers but they create more leaders. So instead of hoarding the best talent on your team, seek out opportunities to help them advance in their career through new tasks, roles, or job functions. 

This means you will lose talented people to promotions or new opportunities. While it might hurt you in the short term, not only is it the right thing to do for someone else it will also attract more talented people to join you on the journey.

Those leaders who aren’t doing these three things are being the opposite of a generous and will find themselves as part of the reason their team never reaches its full potential.  

How do you live out the attribute of generosity in your leadership approach?

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

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

Join the Next Ultimate Leadership Academy If you are ready to elevate the way you lead, join the next virtual Ultimate Leadership Academy.

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

New Year’s Resolutions the Best Leaders Commit to Every Year

New year resolutions

It’s that time of the year again. The time to make resolutions to make 2020 your best professional year ever. 

If you are anything like me, you have made your fair share of resolutions over the years only to make excuses for yourself when you give up on them. Turns out you aren’t alone.  The latest research shows 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by the second week of February. 

In order to make this year different for you, it starts with level setting what a resolution actually is. A resolution is defined as; a firm decision to do or not to do something.

The key to creating resolutions that stick is to make firm decisions about things that are extremely important to you and are attainable to complete. Let’s say you want to make a resolution about drinking less alcohol.  Instead of making a resolution to give up alcohol for the entire year make a commitment to give it up for January. Then keep tabs on how you are feeling and commit to February if you like where you are headed.  

If you are looking for some ideas to make 2020 your best leadership year ever, here are a few resolutions the best leaders commit to every year by making firm decisions and sticking with them: 

Ask for feedback about how they are leading

The best leaders know how important it is to do a gut check on how they are doing from a leadership perspective.  The best way to get this feedback is by asking their people where they are strong and where they need to improve.    

Turns out this isn’t a typical practice for most organizational leaders. After assessing over 40,000 leaders in all different industries and roles, the weakest leadership competency is asking for feedback.  

Resolution: Commit to the act of gathering unbiased feedback about yourself from your team through the BTB 360° Leader Assessment or something similar. 

Communicate why the team is doing what they do

When work and life get busy, it’s easy to lose sight of the long term view on life and work.  While this is normal, it isn’t what the best leaders do. They double down and constantly remind their team about why their work matters and who they are doing it for.  This isn’t something they live up to chance.  

If you aren’t sure if you have done this, ask a few team members, “why do we do what we do every day.”  If the first thing that comes out of their mouth is “money” or “I don’t know,” you have some work to do.  

Resolution: Allocate a day or more with your team to review purpose, mission, vision, values.  Use the time to invite discussion and collaboration.  

Reject negativity and naysayers

I am not breaking any news here but succeeding in today’s business environment is hard. This means there is more opportunity for failure and negative energy to infiltrate a team than ever before.

The best leaders don’t allow negativity to have a place in their culture. They set the standard that negativity doesn’t have a place on their team and if/when they hear it, they make it everyone’s responsibility to squash it.  If negativity continues, the person who is bringing it must find another place to work, regardless of how great of a performer they are.

Resolution: Make rejecting negativity everyone’s responsibility (not just yours). Try “No Negativity January.”

Focus on the most important things each day

The average professional gets 121 emails per day, exchanges 67 texts per day and checks their phone over 80 times per day.  This means there are distractions coming from every angle at all times of the day.   

The best leaders know this and set up their day to work on and achieve the most important things each day.  My friend and entrepreneur Mac Lackey taught me about a secret called WMN. It stands for “What Moves the Needle.” 

Resolution –  Use a 3×5 notecard every single day and write down the most important things you are going to accomplish on each day.

Get the #1 Best New Management Book to Read in 2019 by Book AuthorityBuilding the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success is published by McGraw-Hill. Learn the stories, principles, and tools to help elevate the way you lead others.

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

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

How to Be Ready for Management

There is nothing easy about being a manager. Most professionals never expect how much work their new role is going to be. Whether it’s performance reviews, to one-on-ones to difficult decisions to tough conversations, the job seemingly never gets easier.

Today’s guest on the Follow My Lead Podcast, Ryan Hawk, knows a thing or two about how to make the transition to manager easier. He is the host of the Learning Leader Podcast and the author of the upcoming book, Welcome to Management. You can learn more and preorder the book here.

Listen on iTunes

In the show we cover:

– Why is curiosity a skill that can be developed?

– How to handle someone who isn’t in growth mode

– How do you fight the urge to know feel like a know it all

– How do you handle someone, not in growth mode

– Are leaders born or made?

– One leadership competency that’s most important for a leader

– What is Intellectual humility?

– Why do so many bad leaders stay in positions of leadership

– What is someone working for a bad boss supposed to do?

– What are the common skills and behaviors of great leaders

How to Build a Remote Team from Scratch

Photographer equipment and blank notepad

Remote working has become more popular than ever and is a major leadership trend in 2020. A recent Remote.co study reported 66% of companies to allow remote work, and 16% are fully remote. With the reduced cost for employers and reduced commute times for employees, this trend will continue to skyrocket. 

As beneficial as it can be, leading remote team members has unique challenges versus leading a team working in the same space every day.  To help you out I explored effective strategies in ‘The Keys to Successfully Leading Remote Teams’.

If you don’t have a remote team but envision yourself working with one, here are six key steps on how to build your remote team from the ground up:

Step 1: Establish a Recruitment Plan

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail.” Which is why it’s essential to come up with a recruitment plan right from the get-go. Part of every leader’s job is recruiting talent and leading a remote team is no different.

Most people don’t know what a recruitment plan is, so I asked Comeet’s David Markowitz and expert on the subject and he said, “A recruitment plan is a proactive approach toward aligning your company values and goals with your human resources processes to get that perfect match as you search for new employees.”

Markowitz also exposes some great lessons in his blog ‘How to Develop a Recruitment Plan’, where he highlights how a plan is necessary to get you the right people for the job, as well as “increasing your business’s efficiency.” Another benefit of building a recruitment plan is being able to forecast times where you might have unfilled positions and preventing these from occurring.

Step 2: Scan the Field, Interview, and Test

Before hiring anyone much less your dream team, it helps to do your research and know what kind of person (values and talent) you are looking for and where you are going to look. Because it’s a remote position, you’re able to pick and choose members from a huge talent pool all across the world.

Once you started to narrow it down, video interviews are a requirement for remote workers. This will help you filter out candidates even further and give you a better sense of who they are as people. A few test jobs or trial projects can also help you see who can match your standards for doing remote work before making your final decision.

Step 3: Implement KPIs

Once new team members are properly onboarded, it’s time to turn your attention to key metrics to monitor. These are often referred to as KPIs (key performance indicators). KPI’s are essential to help you monitor and confirm the progress of your employees.

To come up with appropriate KPIs, Mike Swigunki suggests thinking about your company goals. Next, you should find a way to keep track of employee results, which can be aligned with quarterly and yearly goals. Lastly, you should also “track your own efforts with KPIs in order to hold yourself accountable to the same standards you expect from your employees.”

Step 4: Use Proper Communication Platforms

Because your team is remote, it’s more important than ever to maintain proper channels of communication. While traditional things like email and text messages can be used it’s the next generation of technology that allows for better collaboration, which is key. In Influencive’s article on team collaboration tools, they suggest having a collaborative communication platform for your team to deliver the best results, such as Teamwork, Flowdock, or Slack. These feature chat options are more instantaneous than email, allowing members to “attach files, documents, pictures, and links, creating a virtual meeting place where everything is in order.”

Step 5: Come Up with a Central Communication Hub

Having your team’s tasks clearly laid out along with key information is vital for organization and efficiency. When you’re running a business, additional tasks tend to come with no warning and before you know it, you’re unable to stay on top of things. Through popular management software platforms like Asana, Monday, and Trello, your team can stay focused on their main priorities and less-urgent tasks can be saved for later. This way, it’s easy to keep track of your progress and stay motivated until the job is done.

Step 6: Find Ways to Get The Team Together in Person

Remote work is great, but people still look for ways to connect in person. Schedule a yearly or biannual event to get your team together in a central location to help foster deeper relationships and improve employee engagement. If this isn’t possible, schedule group meetings for no other reason but to help people get to know each other.

Although it may seem unusual at first, being part of a remote team is becoming more popular with employees who are tired of their daily commutes. Increased productivity and flexibility are also making remote teams more desirable in the future for all parties involved.

Elevate the Way You LeadBuilding the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success is published by McGraw-Hill and debuted as a #1 Best Seller on Amazon. Learn the stories, principles, and tools to help elevate the way you lead.

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

How to Leverage Healthy Conflict as a Leader to Improve Performance


Power is a drug.

Once you get a taste of it, it’s hard to stop the ambition to get more of it. 

Give a bad leader the ability to make every decision, micromanage others, and enforce their will on those they lead he will throw ever being a great leader right out of the window.  

The tug of war match between people for power is also what creates conflict, but not necessarily the conflict that’s helpful. Instead of assuming all conflict is the same, it’s important to understand there are different types of conflict.

5 Most Common Types of Conflict in the Workplace

Through our research studying teams and leaders, we identified the 5 most common types of conflict in the workplace between bosses and their direct reports:

  1. Interdependent conflict – This conflict between leader and teams depends on the output, input, or cooperation between the parties. This conflict usually comes down to two key elements quality or speed.  A great example of this would be two people on an assembly line. If the first person is slow or doesn’t complete the task correctly it will create conflict with the rest of the team affected by it.
  2. Opinion Conflict –  This conflict emerges when the manager and team members have a different opinion on a particular project, decision, or internal procedure. This conflict usually happens while a decision is being made without a clear correct answer. A good example of this would be conflict on a marketing team about what to name a blog title before publishing it. While one answer could prove to be more successful than the other in the future (think A/B testing), more often than not, one decision is made and the other isn’t tested further. 
  3. Expectation Conflict –  This conflict is created because of the said or unsaid expectations that a person is held responsible to.  Most of the conflict between managers and direct reports comes from two key places; the lack of communication between them or disagreement around the expectations that have been communicated.  A good example of this is a sales person’s arbitrary quota getting set at the beginning of the year. (It gets raised 20% for no reason other than the calendar turns). It’s important to note that the expectation conflict could come from the opposite direction, an employee might have expectations of their bosses and because of a lack of communication, it causes conflict.
  4. Core Conflict –  This conflict tends to be political, religious, gender, ethnic, even environmental related.  These can be the most difficult because most people can’t find common ground in their core differences or don’t want to altogether. 
  5. Personality Conflict – This conflict often arises because people are wired differently.  These are things like a Myers-Briggs Type, Enneagram score, different strengths and weaknesses in Gallup’s Strength’s Finder, or even different Productivity Styles can all be sources of conflict.  

Most leaders go out of their way to ensure there is no conflict.  This isn’t the best strategy. Ignoring or not having any conflict on your team will cost you. I want you to think of conflict as a positive and invite it into your team by remembering this:

Healthy conflict creates courage and connection

Courage and Connection

Courage is being frightened of something and deciding to do it anyways. Teams need courage just like you do as a leader.  A team needs the courage to go into the unknown or achieve things together that they have never achieved before. But through healthy conflict with one another, it will build courage in people.  It will provide an internal belief that the team has prepared itself. Through that healthy conflict, deeper connections from person to person will emerge.  When deeper connection happens that’s when teams become successful.  

A great example of this is the book Building the Best that just came out.  Our team had never published a book before with a major publisher. We didn’t know if our writing was good enough, the ideas were good enough, or collectively we were good enough.  When the initial rejection emails came back from publishers it was disheartening, but no one gave up.  

Instead, we discussed the reasons the rejection emails were coming back and engaged in healthy conflict about modifying the things we could control. These were things such as the name of the book, names of leadership styles, competencies from the research and other publishers we should approach.  when I tell you not everyone had the same opinion on these subjects, that might be an understatement. But through the healthy conflict we engaged in, our courage grew. We felt more confident in the content, titles, and branding. A belief began to emerge that this book deserved to be published. Though this healthy conflict between us connections between team members grew deeper.

Of the 5 common types of conflict between bosses and direct reports in the workplace, Interdependent Conflict, Opinion Conflict, Expectation Conflict, Core Conflict, and Personality Conflict the one I want to share some ways to improve is opinion conflict because it exists in every team.

The #1 goal of opinion conflict is to get to the best possible decision for the team. 

If you lead a team, here are the factors I want you to consider when engaging in healthy opinion conflict:

  1. Size of the decision – How big or small is the decision that needs to be made? Does it have a big impact or little impact and how much risk involved in the decision?
  2. Invite conflict to the team – Invite opinion conflict by articulating by communicating the desire to get to the best possible answer on a solution to a problem. It important to note explosive conflict will not be tolerated.
  3. Consider the expert opinion – Consider what person on the team is the upmost expert but don’t assume they always have the right ideas because good ideas can come from anyone.
  4. Listen to every opinion – Truly listen to the opinion of everyone on the team who is offering them. Make sure you are open to the opinions of others and the decision isn’t already made.  Andy Stanley “If people don’t listen they will eventually be surrounded by people with nothing to say.”
  5. Know feelings will be involved– Anytime you are having conflict about opinions, feelings will get in involved. Use your emotional intelligence and be considerate of everyone’s feelings. Stick to facts as much as possible.
  6. Create systems or tools – Use systems or tools to help use the conflict to get to the best decision possible. Examples of this would be a mediator, charts, lists, and agreed-upon principles.

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

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