When The Best Leaders Use Coaching vs. Feedback

I was finishing up a Building the Best workshop and one of the participants asked an important question. “What’s the difference in coaching versus feedback?”  Turns out he wasn’t alone asking the question.

Coaching is a form of development in which a person called a coach supports a learner or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing training and guidance.

The first use of the term “coach” in connection with an instructor or trainer arose around 1830 in Oxford University slang for a tutor who “carried” a student through an exam. The word “coaching” thus identified a process used to transport people from where they are to where they want to be.  

Feedback, on the other hand, is the information sent to an individual or a group about its prior behavior so that the entity may adjust its current and future behavior to achieve the desired result.

Here are some general differences between coaching and feedback:

Coaching:

  • Focused on behavior for the future
  • Developmental in nature
  • Tends to be question oriented to promote self-discovery
  • Best used to develop skill deficiencies

Feedback:

  • Focused on previous behavior either good or bad
  • Evaluative in nature
  • Direct often in person
  • Best used to improve will issues

As you can tell the two are very different things trying to achieve a similar result.

The natural question is, which one should you use?  

The short answer is it’s almost always better to default to coaching instead of feedback because coaching is coming from the point of view from the person receiving and feedback is coming from the leader’s point of view. Feedback isn’t all bad and if delivered positively can lead to great results. But that’s not typically how it’s given. It generally’s provided with a “what the hell is wrong with your attitude” which doesn’t take a genius to figure out it’s not very productive in today’s environment.

Delivering Direct Feedback Effectively

Being direct with feedback can be an extremely effective way to change the outcome in the future. Before you jump on the “direct feedback” train the most critical factor of delivering feedback is how you do it.

There was a study done by researchers from Stanford, Columbia, and Yale to explore the secrets of giving great feedback. They had middle-school teachers assign an essay-writing assignment to their students, after which students were given different types of teacher feedback.

To their surprise, researchers discovered that there was one particular type of teacher feedback that improved student effort and performance so much that they deemed it “magical.” Students who received this feedback chose to revise their paper far more often that students who did not and improved their performance significantly. What was the magical feedback?

This one phrase:

“I am giving you these comments because I have very high standards and I know that you can reach them.”

If you come in guns blazing giving direct feedback and you are angry and aren’t delivering it to improve future results the feedback is only going to lead to disengagement and resentment.  Remember the whole point of feedback isn’t to make yourself feel good or to show your power as a leader it’s to help adjust behavior to improve future results.

Coaching to Improve Performance

Getting better at coaching is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do as a leader of a team..  The easiest way for you to think about coaching comes from Michael Bungay Stanier “Stay curious a little bit longer and rush to advice giving a little bit slower.”  To do this, you have to focus on pulling the answers out of your team. This ensures their skills are evolving if only for the fact that you are forcing them out of their comfort zone and helping them develop the ability to solve their own problems.

Here are some tactical questions to add to your arsenal to help you get better at coaching:

  • What would you do?
  • I am not sure of the answer, what do you think?
  • What other approaches might you take next time?

So the next time you are trying to decide if you should provide coaching for feedback, default to coaching and when you give feedback, do so in a way that will help improve future results by making it magical.

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which 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 author of Building the Best and host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast. You follow him on instagram @johngeades

Why Great Leaders Don’t Care About Being Friends First

It’s human nature to want to be liked. While there is nothing wrong with this desire, it may be hurting your ability to lead others effectively. 

Take Susan, a young manager of a mid-sized company, for example. The friendships she formed with her team were real and included lunches, discussions about personal lives, and even after-work drinks.

While at first, these close relationships proved to bring the team success, the performance of the team quickly began to erode. The reason: Susan couldn’t turn off the “friend” label which made it extremely difficult to challenge, coach, and hold her team accountable.

There is a simple reason for this phenomenon. Leaders aren’t meant to just be friends, they are meant to elevate others by challenging them to reach the height of their potential. 

There is nothing wrong with being friends with your team, but it can’t be your main goal. If you are falling into the “friend zone” with your team, here’s what you can do:

Admit the Mistake

“Authenticity and humility are so undervalued today,” Jordan Montgomery, a performance coach mused during a recent interview on the Follow My Lead Podcast. Leaders should be the first to take responsibility when things go wrong. The first step is to point the finger at yourself and admit you are in the “friend zone” because of your own actions and choices. When you do this, you create a true moment of humility and authenticity.

Once you admit the mistake, then it’s time to eat a case of humble pie in front of your team. Tell them you let them down as a leader and you want to rectify the situation.

Set Clear Standards

In order to level up, you have to define a new standard. A standard is simply defined as what good looks like. It’s not only your job to define what good looks like, but to go beyond that and define what great looks like moving forward.

The behavior of your team is going to default to the bar set. Be crystal clear, concise and focused. Limit yourself to as few as standards as possible so they can be remembered and applied. If you struggle to set standards, ask yourself the following three questions:

  • What’s the end results I want from my team?
  • What’s stopping us from getting there?
  • What can be done instead?

The last question will reveal the new standard(s) for your team.

Communicate the Standards

Ideally, leaders communicate standards when taking on a team or to individuals as they’re hired. But it’s not the case when a leader has fallen into the “friend zone.” Set up a specific one-on-one or in a group meeting, admit your mistake(s), and clearly communicate the new standards.  

Many leaders take a shortcut and just assume people should know the standards through some kind of osmosis. Don’t make this mistake, by being clear and setting up a specific time to communicate them.

Prepare to Be Tested

No one likes change and there is a high likelihood you will be met with resistance or downright defiance. Be prepared and willing to follow up and follow through.

I don’t pretend this to be easy. In fact, you will be tempted to default to your old way of leading. Leaders aren’t immune to resisting change, and the path of least resistance can be tempting. Reject this with all your heart, soul and mind. Remember it’s your job to elevate others and improve performance over a long period of time and it doesn’t happen by chance.

Get a Coach or Colleague to Help

If I am being honest, there is no way I would have written this 5 years ago, but I have never been more convinced that every leader in an organization should have someone to help improve their performance and hold them accountable. 

I asked Gordon Shuford, the Director of Leadership Development at LearnLoft, why having a coach is so important. Gordon’s answer felt spot on, “As strong and experienced as a leader may be, they don’t have all the answers. Whether a leader believes that professional coaching will help them or not, the best coaches know how to open their hearts and minds to take their skills and development to levels never imagined.”

If you are good friends with your team and you’re achieving maximum performance, kudos. There is absolutely no reason you can’t be friends with your team, but your roles have to be clear in order to help improve performance over a long period of time.  

A version of this article originally appeared on Inc.com

What’s Your Leadership Style? Join over 35k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out what leadership style you are for free.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which 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 author the upcoming book “Elevate Others: The New Model to Successfully Lead Today” 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 Your Company Needs a Leadership Development Academy

Business markets operate in cycles. The Stock Market moves up and down. The housing market favors buyers or sellers depending on the month. The talent market is no different. At times, you may find it to be an employer’s market while at others it quickly shifts to an employee’s.

According to the Trading Economics, an online data platform, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 3.7 percent in September of 2018. That is a noticeable decrease from the previous 3.9 percent over the preceding two months. What a far cry from the 2009 Recession as unemployment rose to 9.6 percent.

While having a low unemployment rate is a wonderful thing, it greatly decreases the pool of talent for employers. It has become difficult for businesses to snag top talent as there are so few qualified candidates and even more who lack modern skills for success.

Because of the current market trend in unemployment, developing current talent is exponentially more important than ever before. Companies must invest in their employees if they want to have a fighting chance of retaining them.

Kyle Porter, CEO of SalesLoft, a leading sales engagement platform, recently penned a viral LinkedIn post detailing this responsibility. The inspiration came after Porter lost one of his top performers to a competitor.

Porter’s realization is authentic, and most importantly, correct. When employers had a leg up on the talent market trends, the paycheck was enough to draw in potential employees. That could not be further from the truth at present. Recruiters, HR professionals and even CEO’s are simply being forced to poach talent from other organizations due to the increasingly dry unemployment pool.

What Companies Can Do?

In the financial markets, the very best investors find unique and creative ways to play offense. They aim to make the maximum amount of return or alternatively, lose less than the average. Applying this approach directly to recruiting can be a boost for any company.

The best leaders have found a way to play offense in a seemingly defensive market. Jason Lippert, CEO of Lippert Components, is a top-notch example. His components manufacturing company had a turnover rate hovering around 130 percent and a shrinking list of potential job candidates.  Lippert chose to address the traditional industry-wide manufacturing problems differently and aggressively hone the leadership skills of his employees at every level and proactively deliver the company culture.

Over a four year period, the Lippert Component team created a leadership academy to train people from the front lines up to the C-Suite. The principles of servant leadership and a proactive culture were engrained in the hearts and minds of the team members and the results followed. Turnover dropped to 30 percent, well below the industry average and job candidates filled out applications at a pace they had never seen.

Your company doesn’t have to be the size or have the budget of Lippert Components to have a leadership development academy. What you need are business leaders who value the development of people and understand success isn’t sustainable without great leadership at all levels. If you are up for making the leap ensure your leadership academy includes these three things:

  1. 360° Assessments – There is nothing worse than business leaders thinking they are leading well, only to find out from their people how wrong they are. Use employee feedback to improve the self-awareness of your leaders.
  2. Modern Content – Many of the foundational principles of leadership in today’s workplace remain the same as decades prior, but also many have changed. Ensure your content is up to date with the challenges facing today’s leaders as well as the way in which the content is delivered.
  3. Continuous Learning– Much of the real true development of leadership skills take place on the job. Provide opportunities for reinforcement and coaching to ensure what is learned in training can be applied.

Regardless of the ebbs and flows of the future talent market, the mentality of potential employees will remain the same. The new normal is a belief that it is the responsibility of an employer to develop their skills in the long-term.

A version of this article originally appeared on Inc.com.

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which 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. He is also the author of the upcoming book “Building the Best.” You follow him on instagram @johngeades.

With 1 Sentence John McCain Taught 3 Lessons For You to Remember About Leadership

There are those who speak about leadership and then, there are those who are leaders. John McCain is the latter. Surviving nearly six years as a Vietnam Prisoner of War, this great American hero went on to serve as Senator of Arizona. Despite his unsuccessful run for President in 2008, McCain’s achievements amounted to plenty.

On Saturday, August 26th, 2018, he lost his battle with Brain Cancer at the age of 81. McCain left us with copious amounts of insight, but for me, this quote holds the most weight:

“Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you, but is not defined by your existence alone.”

This is one of those loaded quotes that unless you unpack it doesn’t quite sink in or have the full effect. Here’s my interpretation that you may find applicable somewhere in your business.

Freedom shouldn’t be about just you.

Human beings are almost constantly chasing a feeling of liberation. By definition, liberate means, “to set (someone) free from a situation”. McCain knew quite a bit about being set free. During his time as a Prisoner of War in the Hanoi Prison, he was offered unconditional release a year into his stay. This he refused. His reasoning? He didn’t want to jump ahead of his fellow soldiers who had been imprisoned longer.

By today’s standards, McCain would likely have been chastised for seemingly passing on the opportunity to return home. Despite this, I’d venture to guess that he wouldn’t have cared what others were thinking. No matter where you’re at in your career, whether it be running a billion dollar startup or dreaming of your next big idea, don’t ignore this example. Make sure the freedom you desire isn’t focused on you sitting on a beach by yourself.

Fight for a cause bigger than yourself.

It wasn’t because McCain acted inherently against the grain that he was given the nickname of “Maverick”. It was due to the lack of importance he placed on which side of the political aisle someone sat on. His driving force was always doing what was right for the American people. This was McCain’s true cause.

Had his sights not been set on making the United States a better place to live, McCain inevitably would have lost momentum. Fighting for something bigger than yourself and more impact than the monetary, as McCain did, will keep you grounded in your mission. Connect to consumers through your business and hang onto the reason why they need your products or services. In being able to do so, you’ll find that your business improves.

Don’t let your job define you.

While it would have been easy for McCain to return from war and settle into famous oblivion, this decorated veteran chose the opposing route. He didn’t want to hide behind his Silver Star, two Legion of Merits, Distinguished Flying Cross, three Bronze Star Medals, two Purple Hearts, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals or Prisoner of War Medal. McCain made the decision to be defined by the kind of man, husband, father, grandfather, and friend he was rather than his job.

This doesn’t mean McCain didn’t do all that he could to become President of the United States. He did, however, maintain who he was at his core instead of letting his dreams and goals consume him.

As many of us know, pouring your heart and soul into a job in order to win in today’s ultra-competitive business world is a near necessity to be successful. Maintain the mentality that regardless if you win or lose in the workplace, you’ll be able to go home at night knowing you demonstrated strong character.

A version of this article originally appeared on Inc.com

Free Leadership Profile Assessment Join over 25k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out what profile you are for free.

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a full-service organizational health company which 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 a sought after speaker for companies and conferences. He hosts the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. He is also the author of FML: Standing Out and Being a Leader and the upcoming book “The Welder Leader.” You follow him on instagram @johngeades.

So You’re Not as Good of a Leader as You Thought. Here’s What To Do Next

As he read the comments from his team, I saw his facial expression change from excited to confused. At one point he looked up and said, “It’s hard to believe they don’t think I care about them and that I only care about their performance.” Sitting back in his chair, he to process the new information. I will never forget the next thing he said:

“As much as I hate to read this about myself, I can’t change now because I am set in my ways. My team knows me too well. They would never think of me any other way, even if I did change the way I led.”

There was some truth behind his words. The reality, however, was that he had the ability to change, but was not willing to put in the required work to do so.

Many professionals in today’s world find themselves in a similar situation. You could debate for hours as to why there is an abundance of bad bosses in organizations, but I am going to simplify it into three main reasons:

  • Previous examples of leadership
  • Love of power, authority, and control
  • Protecting their position within their organization

Author Brad Lomenick joined me on a recent episode of the Follow My Lead podcast, agreed, “We have a cycle of bad leadership that continues to perpetuate itself on itself. For years, if not decades, bad bosses lead the way they were led, compared to how they want to be led.”

No matter where you fall on the leadership spectrum of a subpar to great, there is good news. It is not too late for you to become a better and more effective example for your people. While an older professional may be more set in their ways than someone who is in their first year of management, both can put in the work required to develop and improve their leadership skills.

Here are three steps to transform a bad boss into a great leader.

1. Know the steps to change behavior.

Changing a behavior or habit is difficult no matter who you are. As much as we all want to positively influence the behavior or others, it is up to them to implement the change. That does not mean we should avoid doing things that help people open their hearts and mind to the idea. My friend Alan Stein Jr. laid out three steps towards advancement that I have related to leadership:

Awareness — Becoming informed about how you are leading today

Understanding the Impact – Clearly comprehending the effects changing as a leader will have your life and what is at risk if you do not change

Reconditioning — Developing new leadership habits and behaviors

2. Understand what it really means to be a leader.

Leadership is commonly thought of as being in a position of power, prestige, or responsibility. The problem with this is that it considers only yourself. That is the direct opposite of leadership is all about. I have come to define leadership this way, “Someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve others to produce an improved state over an extended period of time.”

Leadership is about other people, not yourself. It is important for you to wrap your head around your own ability to put the needs of other individual above your own. LinkedIn founder, Reid Hoffman, articulated this in a business sense on a recent episode of the Masters of Scale podcast, “As a manager, you aren’t meant to just direct your employees or to create their to-do list. Your job is to turn their light on.”

3. Focus on your example.

Too often leaders get caught up in coming up with the right words to say or the right speech to give instead of just turning to the most powerful thing they have control over, their own example. Instead of making some big announcement about the changes you are going to employ, just focus on your actions because they truly speak a lot louder than words.

It could all be simplified this way: Focus on spreading leadership at all times only using words when absolutely necessary.

Free Welder Leader Profile Assessment Join over 25k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out what profile you are for free.

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a full-service organizational health company which 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. He is also the author of FML: Standing Out and Being a Leader and the upcoming book “The Welder Leader.” You follow him on instagram @johngeades.

10 Critical Tips to Become a Great Leader

For as long as I can remember, I dreamed of being a leader. I loved achieving as a team and the feeling of camaraderie over individual successes. There is something significant about going through a process or journey with others and being victorious. But I quickly found out that just because you dream about or love something doesn’t mean you are going to be great at it.

My first opportunity leading others professionally proved to be a disaster. I ended up being living proof that Jocko Willink’s quote about leadership is true. “There are no bad teams just bad leaders.” I failed my team, but I knew it didn’t have to end that way.

After years of studying, practicing, applying, and writing about what the best leaders do, I am confident in a set of common tips that all leaders of teams should know. If followed, applied, and mastered, these 10 important tips will increase the probability of improving the performance of your team as a whole. These do not have to be completed in order and you will probably find that you are already practicing a number of them.

1. Be Consistent

I define consistency as “the steadfast adherence to principles, truth or standards of behavior”. It can often be confused for intensity, but truth be told, consistency beats intensity every time. What keeps your teeth clean is not brushing them with vigor, but brushing them twice on a daily basis. The same is true in leadership. Consistency is a vital part of being a leader. A steadfast adherence to principles and standards of behavior will make you the most successful leader you can be. When you lack these, you create a sense of uncertainty and doubt for your team that is almost impossible to overcome.

2. Communicate All the Time

The vast majority of conflict in a work environment or any relationship can be blamed on poor communication. Many leaders do not place enough emphasis on and put enough effort into clear communication. When a leader or team does not properly communicate, assumptions are made. This results in people being unsure about where they stand or how they are supposed to behave. Making it a priority every day to be a great communicator and choosing to over- vs under-communicate will help avoid these issues.

3. Focus on Relationships

Relationships are the center of everything. As such, the relationships you build as a leader must be based on trust and mutual respect. Where most leaders struggle is in understanding their responsibility to earn those two things. Long gone are the days of a title earning the respect of those you lead. In today’s workplaces, a title should only be a reminder of your responsibility to earn trust and respect from your people.

4. Be Purpose-Driven

The desire to be part of something bigger than oneself is deep within everyone. Being purpose-driven is the best way to satisfy this need. Knowing what it is you want to do, beyond making money, is such a vital part of being successful. Ask yourself, who do we serve? Why is it important? What greater impact can/do we have on the world?

5. Define Core Values

Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or an organization. These guiding principles dictate behavior and help people decipher right from wrong. A common denominator between all great leaders is the time they have dedicated to defining their own set of core values. You always know a core value not by the words on a wall or website but by seeing what a leader rewards, recognized and talks about. They are so important because talented people aren’t attracted to empty core values, but rather the exercising of them.

6. Share Your Vision

An integral part of leadership is becoming better than you are today and having a vision for what is possible in the future. Note, I use the word vision and not sight. Sight restricts a team to what they can currently see, vision captures the future of what could be. Elon Musk did this beautifully for his team at SpaceX. “We are going to land people on Mars by 2025,” he said. Imagine going to work there every day and working towards putting people on a different planet! Musk’s people have a clear cut goal and end date to strive for. As a leader, if you do not communicate an improved future state, the chances of you and your team achieving it are not very good.

7. Create a Safe and Connected Environment

Whether your team works in the same office space every day or is remote, creating a safe and connected environment matters all the same. In doing so, you are allowing your people to become the best version of themselves because people want to feel safe and a part of something bigger than themselves which makes them feel welcome.

8. Align Behaviors

To achieve the results you desire, you must cultivate and get the right behaviors and habits of your team. The natural question becomes, how do leaders get these things consistently? By setting high standards, holding people accountable and allowing people to choose to meet or exceed them. A standard is simply defining what good looks like. If you are clear in defining them and your people are held accountable, you will see a consistent pattern of good choices.

9. Coach for Skill

All coaching interactions between you and your people should have a common theme: make an individual better, not tear them down. You should proactively be coaching an individual based on their skills. Skill is defined as “the ability to do something well”. It is imperative that you understand the three levels of skill development in order to best serve your people. These include; building critical mass, accelerated performance, and mastery. Varying tactics and techniques are necessary during your coaching conversation dependent on where a team member is within the three levels.

10. Coach for Long-Term Development

Developing skills to help you and your business in the short-term presents a great deal of value. However, you must go beyond the short-term and contribute to the long-term success and well being of your people. I help leaders to evaluate the following 5 areas components when coaching for long-term development: Do you have development mindset? Do you encourage people to no end? Do you go beyond the job? Do you challenge what’s possible? Do you align to your people’s dreams? If you can answer these questions about each member of your team, they know you care about them for the long haul. Which means the more they will give you in the short term.

Every leader began somewhere. If you are anything like most leaders, it’s safe to say you didn’t take your job of leading others seriously enough early on. You probably just winged it or did what came naturally. This is what has created a low quality of leaders in the current workplace. The latest statistics show 60% of new leaders fail within the first 18 months of their job. Additionally, the vast majority of people don’t have confidence in the leaders they currently have.

In order for you to excel as a leader, you must work hard to understand, master, and apply these ten tips on an ongoing basis.

Ultimate Leadership Academy Do you lead a team and want to go to use these 10 tips to go to the next level? Don’t miss out on the opportunity to join the 3-month online academy which follows the core curriculum of these 10 tips. Learn more and sign up here.

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which 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. He is also the author the upcoming book “Elevate Others: The New Model to Successfully Lead Today.” You follow him on instagram @johngeades.

Why Caring About Your Employees Doesn’t Hurt Profitability

When Jason Lippert became CEO in 2003, Lippert Components (LCI) a manufacturing company was assumed to have peaked while hovering at $100 million in sales.

With many companies outsourcing shipping overseas, the manufacturing market in America was not the place to be in the early 2000’s. Despite this, Lippert’s motivation to achieve did not waiver. He envisioned a different kind of company, one that blew past $100 million in revenue.

In the years to come, the growth of LCI aligned with Lippert’s vision. Through hard work, dedication, and strategic acquisitions the business grew 20 percent year over year amassing over $800 million in revenue by 2013. In spite of the success, Lippert felt like something was missing.

Around this time, he was emailed a TEDx talk, by Bob Chapman called “Truly Human Leadership.” This 20 minute video ended up being his moment of clarity. Lippert knew there was more to his career and company than making parts, being profitable, and growing for the sake of growing. LCI had lost sight of how important it is to positively impact the lives of their employees. The decision was made. Lippert could no longer manage the business based on results.

It is often thought that accelerated business growth and the development of employees are difficult to achieve simultaneously. Lippert and the team at LCI have disproven this in a big way. 6 years later the business has gone from $800 million in revenue to over $2.4 billion all while making a commitment to people that is unprecedented. This success of Lippert is a testament that profitability is not hindered by investing in your people. Do you need proof? Here are three reasons why:

There is no reason you should not be great to your people.

It should not surprise you to hear a business leader say, “We care about our people.” But, do they know how to translate these words into action? According to Monster, 72% of employees don’t think management cares about their career growth. Lippert has learned firsthand the importance of showing versus telling your people you care about them.

To truly be great to the people you lead, it is imperative that you make dedicated time to listen to them instead of talk. Each and every day, take notes on what your people are saying. Pairing these original thoughts of your employees with actionable items to implement throughout your organization is a tangible way to prove you value them.

Talent is attracted to companies who care.

In today’s competitive market, the responsibility falls on business leaders to attract the best talent. According to the Labor Department, unemployment has hit 3.9 percent reaching an all-time low. This means potential employees have the upperhand. Companies have to go above and beyond to demonstrate and communicate that their culture cares about people over profit.

To attract new talent and retain your current employees, core values need to be defined and brought to life. Reward, recognize, and articulate these ideas at all times. While a company can display these core values on their walls, what really makes an organization stand out is the manifestation. Talented people are not attracted to empty words, but rather the exercising of them.

The more you pour into your people, the better your results become.

When asked on the Follow My Lead Podcast about the best investment Lippert has made in the past two years, his answer was shocking. “Developing our 800 front line managers into leaders. These people directly pour an example of leadership into our 11,000 employees.” By evolving these leaders, Lippert was directly enabling people to model leadership by serving and empower others. This translated into a more engaged workforce which then created better results.

One of the best ways you can pour into your team members is by providing learning and development opportunities. Skookum, an award-winning digital strategy, design, and development firm in Charlotte, NC, provides their employees with $1,000 per year for learning and development needs. This is on top of already established internal programs. Invest in your people, offer leadership development programs and help them to build the skills to move themselves and the business forward..

For decades, companies have focused on managing their business based on results. Lippert and LCI provide a great example of why you should think about doing things differently.

A version of this article originally appeared on Inc.com

Ultimate Leadership Academy Do you lead a team and want to go to the next level? Learn more about our 6 month online academy based on servant leadership principles, expert coaching, and practical action plans. Learn more here

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a full-service organizational health company which 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. He is also the author of FML: Standing Out and Being a Leader and the upcoming book “The Welder Leader.” You follow him on instagram @johngeades.

7 Surprising Things Hurting Your Development as a Leader

If you are unhappy in your development as a leader, you’re not alone.  Many people in leadership roles struggle with hitting a plateau when it comes to enhancing their leadership skills. As with the path to developing any skill, you are going to hit valleys and peaks on your way to developing as a leader. If you are currently in one of these valleys or the next time that you find yourself in one of these potholes, consider some of these factors: 

Losing Your Sense of Purpose

As people get older, they change. As people change, their priorities change.  When their priorities change, their sense of purpose, why they are on the earth, and why they do what they do professionally might change.  Without a clear understanding of what you want and why, your leadership abilities are going to be negatively affected.

Skipping Out on Exercise

Any type of exercise improves your mood with the release of endorphins.  This gives you more energy, which will provide you an extra boost of things that are important in leadership; including, confidence, patience and time for your people.

Cutting off the Knowledge Fountain   

Why so many people just stop consuming knowledge is beyond me.  Its fairly simple, the depth of your knowledge is one of the best indicators your future.  Leadership is a journey and not a destination so it requires constant improvement and refinement.  The question you have to ask yourself is, how many books, podcasts, videos, experiences, or articles do you consume to increase your knowledge?  Are you investing in yourself to become a better leader?

Speaking too Much

It’s impossible to learn when your mouth is constantly moving.  Speaking too much stifles our skills and abilities to lead because the people you are leading don’t get the opportunity to blossom.  Try being more intentional in how many and what words you use.  That way, when you are speaking, it will be much more impactful.

Losing Touch with a Mentor

As time goes on, it’s easy to lose touch with mentors or the people that helped provide wisdom and guidance to get you where you are.  If this is something that has happened to you, grab your phone and reach out.  You will be amazed at the outcome.

Focusing too Much on Money   

With most promotions comes a raise.  All of sudden your life quickly becomes how much money you are making, and how much you have to make to based on your lifestyle.  Some call it “golden handcuffs.” If money is the majority of what you think about and pursue, it will become just one more hindrance to your ability to lead.

Eating by Yourself

Are you so busy, you scarf lunch down at your desk by yourself, or worse you skip it all together? If so, its hurting your development as a leader. Being a leader is about other people.  Sponsoring team lunches or scheduling lunches with specific team members are great ways to continue to develop as a leader.  They provide human opportunities to learn and inspire your team.

Some of these are easy to change, while others are extremely difficult.  If any of these resonate with you, start small by changing habits to remove or eliminate each one.  Keep in mind the ultimate goal is to do everything you can to stop hindering your development of being a better leader.

Ultimate Leadership Academy Do you lead a team and want to go to the next level?  Learn more about our 6 month online academy based on servant leadership principles, expert coaching, and practical action plans. Learn more here.

Free Culture Assessment Join over 200 companies who have discovered what level of company culture currently exists in their organization today. (Toxic, Deficient, Common, Advanced, Elite) Take it for free here.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a full-service organizational health company which 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. He is also the author of FML: Standing Out and Being a Leader and the upcoming book “The Welder Leader.” You follow him on instagram @johngeades.

How You Should Conduct Performance Reviews in 2018

The thinking and policies regarding performance reviews have experienced a shift within organizations. HR researcher Josh Bersin estimated as many as 70 percent of multinational companies are moving away from the outdated annual review approach to performance management. In the last five years, corporations including GE, Adobe, Microsoft, and Dell have axed annual performance reviews.

Eliminating these practices means leadership in the workplace can take priority over management. The problem is that 30-40 percent of companies still utilize annual performance reviews and most employees hate them. Conversely, the vast number of companies that do not rely on performance reviews are burdened with managers struggling to give constructive feedback.

Great leaders give constructive feedback day in and day out.

The most successful leaders give constructive feedback to their employees on a daily basis. This method is successful because these leaders do two things well:

  1. Document positive and deficient behaviors of team members
  2. Provide feedback in as close to real-time as possible

On the Follow My Lead podcast, I asked Dave Needham, CEO of Ohos, “Why do so many managers struggle to do these two things in today’s business environment?” His response was, “What managers struggle with is the amount of time it takes to document things that create effective feedback conversation or even a performance review.”

Dave is right. It is common today for managers to have 10 or more direct reports, many of whom are working in different time zones and primarily communicating via Slack or email. The amount of one-on-one time managers receive today is much different than in years past. This is not an excuse, however. With the ban on performance reviews must come an environment in which managers can deliver feedback on not only the results but the behaviors and habits of their team.

While formal performance reviews are becoming old-fashioned, this does not mean they have to be ineffective. In fact, with remote teams, a quarterly review is often a good option. Classical Conversations, a leading homeschool education company, has a primarily remote workforce, and because of this, they find the quarterly employee review to be extremely effective. If performance reviews produce great results for your organization, ensure you do these three things:

1. Get data from more than just yourself.

It is impossible for one person to have eyes on everything. You will always find that people are excellent at straightening up in their chair and putting their best foot forward when the boss comes around. This gives even more of a reason to plug into those who interact with the team on a regular basis. Data from co-workers or team members can frequently provide the most insight into the positive and negative behaviors of an individual.

2. Relay data on an ongoing basis.

An alternative to sharing performance data once a quarter or once a year is finding a way to share live data on an ongoing basis. This provides people with a means to be informed on how they are doing across results, behaviors, teamwork, positivity, or work ethic. Basketball games have scoreboards for a reason–no one wants to guess who won the game when the final buzzer goes off. Yours does not have to be an elaborate system. It could be as simple as a spreadsheet with the key metrics being updated both the manager, direct report, and co-workers.

3. Be a great coach.

One of the most important actions any manager can take is being a great coach to their people. Fighting the urge to tell people what or how to do something will help strengthen their skills and ability to perform. Choose to coerce their ideas out. Great coaches live out the saying, “Education of the mind without education of the heart isn’t education at all.” Get inside the heart of your team members and drive their best self out by building upon their strengths and improving deficient behaviors.

Whether you are in an organization that continues to have quarterly or annual performance reviews or not, employ these lessons to improve the performance of your team members.

Free Welder Leader Profile Assessment Join over 20k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out what profile you are for free.

Free Culture Assessment Join over 200 companies who have discovered what level of company culture currently exists in their organization today. (Toxic, Deficient, Common, Advanced, Elite) Take it for free here.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a full-service organizational health company which 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. He is also the author of FML: Standing Out and Being a Leader and the upcoming book “The Welder Leader.” You follow him on instagram @johngeades.

5 Simple Habits Bad Leaders Can’t Seem to Shake Off

Conventional wisdom about leadership holds that great leaders are born and not made. It turns out that isn’t true. Some research done by Leadership Quarterly showed that 26 percent of a leader is born or DNA and 74 percent is learned or developed.

Why is this so important?

I have no clue whether you were born with this DNA or not, but I know you can become a better leader by focusing on your habits (those things you do every day without thinking). Will Durant famously summed up Aristotle’s thoughts in the Story of Philosophy by saying, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, it’s a habit.”

Professionals often assume that becoming a better leader requires adding new skills or habits to their arsenal. While this can help, I’ve also found removing or changing habits can be just as effective.

Here are five habits bad leaders can’t seem to shake that continually hold them back from becoming a more effective leader.

1. Quickly blaming other people

You always know someone struggles from a leadership perspective when you make them aware of a mistake and the first words out of their mouth are, “That was someone on my team’s fault.” Regardless whether the mistake was theirs or not, the best leaders do the opposite. They assume responsibility because they know they are ultimately the one responsible.

Great teamwork and trust are built when leaders are quick to take the blame and deflect praise to their team.

2. Focusing on the short-term over the long-term

Bad leaders wake up thinking and making decisions based on the short-term and not the long term. It’s as if they are wearing a pair of glasses that block out anything beyond a couple months. Dabo Swinney the Clemson football coach has a brilliant perspective about this, “I care more about the 30-year-old version of my players than the 19-year-old version. I want our players to know we empowered, disciplined, encouraged, and equipped them and we didn’t use them or entitle them.”

That’s great leadership because it’s not prioritizing the short term gain over the long-term mission.

3. Making all the decisions

Most people move into a position of leadership because they were good at their job. Typically their first actions are to solve all the world’s problems and be a major part of every decision facing the team. The problem is the people they are now leading are being treated as followers and have a sense of being in a subordinate position, thus creating more followers, not more leaders. As leadership expert David Marquet says, “followers have limited decision making authority and little incentive to give the utmost of their intellect, energy, and passion. Those who take orders usually run at half speed, underutilizing their imagination and initiative.”

The key here is to not only be ok with your people making decisions but make it a core part of their job.

4. Listening to the news or music on the commute

In the past, I liked nothing more than turning on some tunes and checking out mentally during my commute. Then, 4 years ago I was introduced to the world of podcasting and Audible books and it changed my leadership journey forever.

I was so inspired that I started my own leadership podcast, the “Follow My Lead” Podcast. Over 120 episodes later and almost 300k downloads, I have had the opportunity to have a front-row seat interviewing some of the best CEOs, thought leaders, and authors in the country. On a recent episode, Amber Selking said something every professional should hear: “Your people will know if you are willing to serve, sacrifice and listen to them.”

At the end of the day, the best leaders leverage their time effectively and continually invest in their education and development.

5. Believing they are the only one who can do the job

Like most leaders, I met my biggest weakness early on. I thought I was the only person who could do things right, and I had to have my hand in everything. I was the classic micromanager who ended up finishing or completing the work that my team was more than capable of completing. Then someone told me an old African Proverb,

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Not only was it important for me to hear but it’s a powerful lesson for any leader. You can only go so far on your own. Surround yourself with talented people, ask for help, give more responsibility, and try to listen more than you talk.

90 Day Epic Leadership Challenge: Join John for 90 days to become the best leader you can be at work, home, and for yourself. Find out more here.

Free Welder Leader Profile Assessment Join over 20k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out what profile you are for free.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a full-service organizational health company focused on improving culture and developing modern leaders. 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. He is also the author of FML: Standing Out and Being a Leader and the upcoming book “The Welder Leader.” You follow him on instagram @johngeades.