How to Coach Others When You’re a Manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Choose the Right Moments

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Focus on the Individual 

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

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

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

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

3. Stick to the Basics

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

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

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

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

Closing

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

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

Do you agree?

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft and VP of Thought Leadership at Peoplebox. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

What Bad Managers Consistently Get Wrong About Leadership

leadership

If you are like most people, you don’t often think about bad leaders unless you had or currently have one. However, studying or experiencing them can be a more effective teacher than learning from some great ones.  

Take former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling as an example. His management and leadership style was built on the foundation of fear. He used practices for performance reviews that eventually became known as “rank and yank.” This method required 15 percent of Enron’s employees to receive the lowest score, regardless of their actual performance. Those employees were given two weeks to find another job within Enron or be terminated.

Skilling believed this unorthodox process was one of the most important in the company because he thought people were only motivated by two things: money and fear. (This isn’t true, read more about motivation here) He carried this belief into his personal life, creating the same kind of disastrous effect that imploded his company. Skilling didn’t realize his leadership style caused his failure at work and home, but luckily we get to learn from it.

However, bad leaders aren’t going to give up or admit their shortcomings easily because they want the power and title, but they don’t want to do the work associated with becoming a leader. As Austin Kleon said, “Lots of people want to be the noun, without doing the verb.” Think of it in leadership terms this way, 

Most managers want the title without acting like a leader.

I have been fortunate to coach managers who mold themselves into leaders because of self-reflection and hard work. People can change for the better, especially if they want it enough.

Having said that, if you are working for a lousy leader and they aren’t actively trying to change and get better, I want you to find freedom in what you are about to read. 

You are never going to do enough for a bad boss.  

There will be times in a relationship with a bad boss where it’s bearable or borderline pleasant. But eventually, their judgment attitude, lack of coaching, and egotism catch up, causing you to not be good enough for them.  

How to Know If a Manager Isn’t Leading

The last thing we need is another article about the differences between management and leadership. So here are three of the most common things managers do to ruin their leadership development. 

 1. They only care about results.

Let’s go ahead and get this on the table; results matter. Not only are they a good barometer for financial performance, but without them, no one will have a job. But there is also a stark difference between what managers evaluate and what leaders consider. 

Take the legendary coach John Wooden as an example. He won 10 National Championships in a 12-year span, and he never mentioned the word “win” to his players at any time. The reason is, he knew the minute his words solely focused on the final results was the minute his team wasn’t focused on the behaviors and habits required to attain the result.

He understood this critical leadership lesson:

Great leaders elevate standards to create positive results over time. 

You can learn more about “elevating standards” in this short video from a workshop helping managers to lead their best. 

2. They can’t stop thinking about themselves.

Every one of us wakes up thinking about ourselves. The last time you looked at a group picture, what did you look at first? I guarantee you scanned the image to look for yourself. We all do it. Selfishness is a battle we face whether we like it or not.  

Here’s where the challenge lies: leadership is all about other people. In Building the Best, I define a leader as “someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve in order to elevate others.” 

Managers who refuse to think about others can’t become influential leaders because they can’t elevate others. If you struggle to put others’ needs ahead of your own, try the PTS method. Anytime you change environments, say to yourself, “prepare to serve.” It will help reset your mindset from serving yourself to serving other people.  

3. They think they’re a leader, well before they are.

My company, LearnLoft, has spent years studying what the best and most effective leaders do and codified it to help new managers make the leap. Through this work, we have also seen the other side of the coin. Managers who think they are effective leaders but their people tell a much different story.

It’s most common in Executives because they have risen to positions of power and prestige, so in their mind, it doesn’t make sense to do things differently. Managers who make the most significant strides in their leadership development are humble enough to admit they don’t have all the answers and are a constant work in progress. 

Managers who make the most significant strides in their leadership development are humble enough to admit they don’t have all the answers. 

Closing

Leadership is a journey and not a destination. Whether you have experienced a bad leader like Jeff Skilling or not, everyone is susceptible to falling into the path of becoming a bad leader. Keep studying, testing, and working to become the leader you were meant to be.

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

Why Bad Managers Focus on Friendship Instead of Leadership

leadership or different concept with red and white paper airplane on blue background

Until you are a manager, you never really know the struggle of balancing friendship with leadership. In one sense, friendship shouldn’t even be on the radar, but on the other side of the coin, everyone wants to be liked, which puts leaders in a bit of a challenging position.  

Anyone who has led or has studied the field of leadership development will tell you that building and maintaining quality relationships is a key to success. However, having the goal of being best friends first with every team member will hurt you.  

This doesn’t mean you or any leader should avoid or reject being friends with a team member. If a friendship grows, that is great, but that’s not the purpose of leadership. If being friends with a team member becomes more important than doing what’s in their or the team’s best interest, your priorities are out of alignment.

If being friends with a team member becomes more important than doing what’s in their or the team’s best interest, your priorities are out of alignment.

Healthy boundaries for both parties

Boundaries, respect, and trust are essential to the success of any relationship. For leaders, think, “friendly is essential; friendship isn’t required.”

It turns out; team members need healthy boundaries as well. Most professionals don’t want or even need a friend in their boss, but they do have to know their manager cares about them.

Professionals don’t need their manager to be a best friend, but they do have to know they care about them.  

How to focus on leadership over friendship

When you dig into friendship in the workplace deeper, it becomes less elusive identifying its five key components from research; (a)Affect (b) a Grand Project (c) Altruistic Reciprocity (d) Moral Obligations, (e) Equality.

In the workplace, one of these stands out, which is “a grand project.” C. S. Lewis said, “lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest.” Wikipedia defines friendship as a relationship of mutual affection between people. While there is nothing wrong with a platonic relationship between colleagues, the best leaders see the lines of friendship and leadership differently. They know their primary job is not friendship.

Instead, they know their job is to connect team members to a deeper cause, remove barriers to help them be successful, coach them up daily, and challenge them to become a better version of themselves.

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If you have fallen too much into the “friend zone” as a manager or want to get back to leaning into the shared common interests with team members, here are some ideas.  

1. Reconnect to the Team to a Deeper Purpose

No matter your business, there is a deeper purpose for why it exists. Maybe it’s to make the lives of your clients better, or perhaps it’s to transport joy around the world. Regardless of what it is, it’s the leader’s job to constantly reconnect people to the cause behind the work a team does.  

While this might sound corny, it’s not. By constantly talking about important things that matter, you elevate the conversation and relationship between the people you get the opportunity to lead.

2. Elevate the Standard

To ensure leadership comes before friendship, it’s a great idea to elevate the standard of what’s expected to be a team member. A standard is defined as what good looks like. However, managers define what good looks like, leaders define what great looks like. 

Your team’s behavior will default to the standards that you demonstrate and define for them. Be crystal clear, concise, and conclusive. Limit yourself to as few standards as possible so they can be remembered and applied. If you struggle to set clear standards, ask yourself the following three questions:

What’s the end result I want from my team?

What’s stopping us from getting there?

What can be done instead?

3. Act Like a Coach

The best way to demonstrate to team members that you are in your role to lead and not just be a friend is to help them perform at their best and be proactive in helping them reach their full potential. A great way to achieve this is to act as a coach for them.  

Just think of the best sports coaches in the world. They are constantly looking for ways to bring out the best in their players and to help them get from where they are to where they want or need to be. 

The best coaches help people get from where they are to where they want or need to be.

Arm yourself with a set of go-to coaching questions to get your people to think differently and solve their problems. Then, check out the Coaching for Excellence Program if you want to improve your coaching skills in less than 1 hour. 

4. 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 with your mindset of leadership over friendship. 

I don’t pretend this to be easy. In fact, you will be tempted to default to your old ways. 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. As I wrote in Building the Best, “only leaders who are tested become great. 

Only leaders who are tested become great.

Remember, it’s your job to elevate others and improve performance over time, and it doesn’t happen by accident. 

Closing

What’s interesting about this topic of friendship and leadership is there isn’t only one correct way. I have had team members where real legitimate lifelong friendships developed because of our work together and others where it didn’t. I am profoundly grateful for both.  

However, as long as leaders keep the main thing, the main thing, and focus on leadership over friendship, our teams and our performance will be in a better place.

Do you agree?

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

How to Lead When You Don’t Feel Like a Leader

Business leadership and teamwork concept

If someone tells you they were born a leader, don’t believe them. No one is born a leader, but people do develop into one. While some of the most outstanding leaders of all time were born with some leadership DNA, they still had to work to develop their skills over their journey.

This question of whether leaders are born or made has been debated for decades. Leadership Quarterly did some fantastic research; they found 24 percent of our leadership comes from DNA, while 76 percent is learned or developed. 

Why is this important? I don’t know whether you were born with this leadership DNA or not, but I know you can become a better leader regardless if it comes naturally or not. For many people, this is a significant change in thinking, but it’s the only way to think if you are going to get better.  

Take Ben, a project manager in a manufacturing company, as an example. For the first five years of his career, he was a team member instead of leading a team. When he became a head project manager, he was thrust into keeping projects on time and within budget, which meant leading people. He struggled early in this new role to build strong relationships, set clear standards, and create a culture of accountability. As the project started to fall behind, Ben realized that the problem wasn’t his team; it was his lack of leadership.  

After coaching Ben, it became evident that he had many of the skills required to lead successfully, but the problem was that he didn’t think of himself as a leader. I will share with you what I shared with him:

Thinking of yourself as a leader is a key to becoming one.

Now before you start running down the ego trail, it’s essential to clarify this. You don’t decide if you are a leader; others do. However, most people struggle because, in their mind, leadership is only meant for certain types and kinds of people, not for them.  

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone is called to lead in one way or another. Either leading themselves, leading at work, or leading at home.

Everyone is called to lead in one way or another.

So whether leading comes naturally or not, it should be evident now that you’re called to lead in some part of your journey, so you might as well become a better leader. Here are some ideas to help:

1. Anchor yourself in belief 

Belief is one of these things that most people assume only a few people possess. It couldn’t be further from the truth because belief by definition is; trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something. Everyone can have trust, faith, or confidence in themselves and what they expect to happen in the future.  

On a recent episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast, Amy P. Kelly said, “When a leader has belief, it’s a magnet for others to want to be part of it. Conversely, if you don’t have belief, no one else around you can.”

Not only is she correct, but it highlights the essential nature of self-belief and the belief in others as a critical element of leadership. Because as Michael Korda said, “if you don’t believe in yourself, then who will believe in you?”

2. Focus on the fundamentals 

Leadership, in some ways, is like golf. For some people who have excellent hand-eye coordination, the game comes more manageable than those that don’t. But even without excellent hand-eye, you can still play the game and get better at it by focusing on the fundamentals—grip, posture, balance, technique, and the mental game. 

If you weren’t born with the natural instincts of leadership, it’s best to lean into leadership fundamentals—things like relationships, communication, standards, accountability, and coaching. 

Don’t get bored with the basics and work relentlessly to develop your skills in these areas. If you want a recap of leadership fundamentals, check out a previous newsletter, 8 Building Blocks Successful Leaders Get Right, or get a copy of Building the Best

3. Demonstrate you care 

There aren’t many leadership hacks, but simply demonstrating you care about others in each interaction might be one. Whether leadership comes naturally or not, if people don’t think you care about them as human beings, you won’t go far as a leader.

If people don’t think you care about them, you won’t go far as a leader. 

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

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

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

Closing

Suppose you are among the few people where leadership comes naturally, congratulations but don’t take it for granted. Reaching your full leadership potential won’t happen without a lot of hard work and effort. 

If leadership doesn’t come naturally, don’t for a second think you can’t be a leader. By anchoring yourself in belief, focusing on the fundamentals, and demonstrating you care about others, you increase your odds of positively impacting others.

Coaching for Excellence: The development of your coaching skills will make a tremendous difference in helping you lead your best in 2021. Join me today the next Coaching for Excellence Workshop from 12-1 PM EST. Sign up and get “8 Questions to Leverage to Be a Better Coach” for free today! https://bit.ly/3goZLv2

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

7 Simple Lessons to Be a Better Leader Right Now

In search of great idea

One of the most impressive things about all great leaders is their relentless pursuit of wisdom. They do this through a learning cycle of knowledge, comprehension, and application that goes on their entire lives. 

What’s fascinating about leadership is many timeless principles remain the same, while at the same time, leaders need to change to remain successful in modern times. This is precisely why great leaders are grounded in principles but always keep an open mind and a learning mindset.

Great leaders are grounded in principles but always keep an open mind and a learning mindset.  

Whether you are the CEO of a company, managing a team, or just trying to lead your family better, these lessons will change your perspective on leadership or remind you what you already know. 

Lesson 1: Being a Leader Means It’s No Longer About You

Recent statistics show 40% of new managers fail within the first 24 months of taking their job. One of the primary reasons is managers believe and act like their promotion is about them. The truth is, the only day your title matters is the day you receive it. After that, all that matters is how you bring out the best in others.  

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“When you were made a leader you weren’t given a crown, you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others.” Jack Welch

Lesson 2: Leadership Isn’t about Power, but Excellence

Many people in leadership positions are ambitious. Which by itself isn’t a bad thing. However, ambition for power is bad, ambition for excellence is good. Your job is to channel your ambition into being an excellent leader focused on putting others’ needs ahead of your own and raising the bar on effort and performance. 

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“Leadership is not about control but service. It’s not about power but empowerment.” – Dr. Myles Munroe

Lesson 3: A Leader’s Actions Matter More Than the Position

Most people with a title consider themselves a leader, but it couldn’t be further from the truth in reality. If it weren’t for the paycheck that hit their team’s account every two weeks, their team wouldn’t do or listen to a thing they said. The reason for this isn’t the title one has, but their actions daily.  

Your actions will always matter more than your words, especially when it comes to leadership. 

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“Leadership is an action, not a position.” – Donald McGannon

Lesson 4: Leaders are Dealers of Hope and Courage

There are moments in time where the stakes are higher than usual for a team or organization. In military terms, this would be in a time of war, and business terms would be navigating a Global Pandemic. It’s times like this where uncertainty, fear, and worry consumes people.  

However, great leaders recognize this and know their job is to be a dealer of hope and courage to their people. To help them reject fear and step into courage. The reason is simple, leaders who don’t encourage will eventually be surrounded by a discouraged team.  

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“The role of a leader is to define reality and give hope.” Napoleon

Lesson 5: Leaders Take the Blame and Give the Credit.

The late great Kobe Bryant said, “Leadership is responsibility.” Bryant was right, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s tempting to blame others when things go wrong, and easy to take credit for a team’s success when things go right. But just because it’s tempting and easy doesn’t mean it’s right. If you are in a leadership position, taking responsibility when things go wrong and giving credit when things go right is required. 

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“When things go wrong, take all the blame. When things go right, give away all the credit.” – Dave Cancel

Lesson 6: Leaders Choose Positivity over Negativity

The current business world makes it hard to be optimistic. I don’t know if it’s the amount of negative information we receive, the speed at which judgments are cast, the sheer amount of people doing work they hate, or some combination of the three. If you are anything like me, you have struggled to maintain optimism during difficult times.

But the best leaders don’t give in to this kind of thinking. They don’t lower themselves or their mind to negative thinking. Instead, they train themselves and those around them to choose positivity over negativity.  

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“Being positive won’t guarantee you’ll succeed. But being negative will guarantee you won’t.” – Jon Gordon

Lesson 7: Leaders Coach, They Don’t Judge

Conventional thinking has leaders believing their job is to be judge and jury over people and decision making. While there is no doubt part of a leader’s job is to make decisions, the correct thought process is for leaders to think of themselves as a coach, instead of a judge.  

There is enough judgment in this world, and having it passed onto us by a boss isn’t what we need. What’s needed is someone to help coach us and develop the skills required to be successful.  If you want to sharpen your coaching skills, register for the next Coaching for Excellence Workshop.

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“A leader is a coach, not a judge.” – Dr. William Edwards Deming

Closing

Living out all seven of these lessons each day as a leader is difficult. But knowing you are in relentless pursuit of wisdom and understanding like so many great leaders who walked before you should be proof that you’re on the right path. 

Which lessons is your favorite, or what would you add? Let me know in the comments. 

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

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

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

The Simple Way Leaders Get Feedback at the End of the Year

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Awareness, or more to the point, a lack of self-awareness, is a primary issue any Executive Coach focuses on to help a leader get better. When a person holds a position of power and authority without clear, candid information about how their actions or behaviors affect their teams, it’s a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, this describes too many leaders.

In our preliminary research, most leaders believe they are self-aware. In actuality, only between 30%- 40% have proven they possess this skill. Moreover, many of the executives and managers we have studied over the last seven years have never even asked their team members for feedback about how they are leading. Their reasons varied from being overly confident, apathetic, or scared to hear the truth.

While asking your team for feedback can be a scary endeavor, research suggests those on the path to self-awareness are more confident, make better decisions, build better relationships, and communicate more effectively.  

Nadeem Saeed backed this up by saying, “Self-Awareness is the first chapter in the book of leadership.”

Why We Avoid The Truth

Whether it be our finances, the quality of our relationships, or the way we are currently leading, it’s just more comfortable to avoid the truth than confront it. Let’s face it, avoidance and denial have their short-term benefits — they feel better. Self-preservation and protection from real emotion or pain can disguise itself as the best path. But, things have a way of catching up to you. They say the truth will set you free, but they never said anything about it being painless. 

Leaders who avoid the truth move further away from being in a position of strength. 

The vast majority of leaders will only go to the point in which it gets uncomfortable, then they stop. However, growth and development are right around the corner when we find out the truth, and we get a little uncomfortable. Daniel Chidiac said some wise words, “Being self-aware is not the absence of mistakes, but the ability to learn and correct them.”

How to Get Unbiased Feedback 

As I wrote in Building the Best, a leader’s most important job is to elevate others.  It is nearly impossible to do this if you don’t know how your skills or behaviors impact other people. 

Thanks to Gallup’s Strength’s Finder, there is a strong trend for professionals to lean into their strengths and forget about their weaknesses. While this may be true when speaking of technical skills, it’s quite the opposite when it comes to leadership skills. A leader must discover and improve deficient skills because they negatively impact other people and your ability to lead them. 

Great leaders lean into their weaknesses in order to elevate others

To summarize so far, self-awareness is critical, and it will probably hurt. If you’re ready to take the plunge, here’s how you can begin to get feedback: 

Simply put, you ask for it. Our team leverages SkillsLoft to help leaders understand their current leadership style and their strengths and weaknesses. This tool aids in getting candid feedback by keeping responses anonymous. But not every company invests in a 360° feedback tool and there are always gaps in them as well. Instead of waiting on a company leadership development program, you can use this one bold question Casey Graham, Gravy’s CEO leverages to get unbiased feedback

“What’s the absolute worst part of working directly with me?”

What’s so powerful about this, Graham sets the standard that his organization’s growth is directly tied to the growth rate of every leader within it. This question not only takes courage to send, but it shows your team and that you are in growth mode and models the behaviors you want to see from them.  

What To Do After You Receive Feedback

There is a huge caveat to asking for feedback. If you want to get honest, candid feedback, you must be willing to do something about it. If someone gives you feedback, and nothing comes of it, they won’t be as willing, to be honest with you again. The same can be said for your attitude when receiving some harsh criticism. After someone on your team or organization has given you feedback, follow these three steps: 

  1. Thank Them – Thank them for taking the time and energy to share their insight, whether you agree with it or not. Say something like, “Thank you for taking the time to provide this to me. I am in growth mode as a leader, and I’m going to take some time to consider your feedback and what I am going to do to improve.” 
  2. Act Differently Because of It – Once you determine if the feedback is accurate, formulate a plan for how you will act differently because of it. This may require training, coaching, or just good old fashion behavior change.
  3. Create a Feedback Loop – There is nothing easy about changing behavior. Find a mechanism or cadence to create a feedback loop. Ask your team at least for feedback at least once a year.

Closing

Personal and leadership growth starts with self-awareness. This visibility for where you are today allows you to get better tomorrow. Asking for, listening to, and accepting feedback as a gift is the best way to make this happen.  

It will always be easier to avoid or ignore the truth. You decide if you want things to be easy or if you want to elevate those around you. If you’re committed to your development and the development of those you lead, make it a priority to get feedback from them.

Coaching For Excellence. Join John for a live virtual workshop on December 22nd from 12 PM – 1 PM EST. Limited spots are available! Now is the time to develop your coaching skills. Big Bonus: By registering today you will also get the 2021 Leadership Plan!

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

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

The Simple Way to Tell If You’re a Leader or Manager

Conventional thinking would have you believe you need a title to be considered a leader. Conventional thinking is wrong. A title doesn’t make a leader; your actions do.  

In my book, Building the Best, I define a leader as:

“Someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve in order to elevate others.”

People who live out this definition don’t wait for a title — and acting this way isn’t reserved for the select few. All you have to do is make the choice to lead, because when your actions inspire, empower, and serve others, not only will the performance of the people increase, your own performance will too.  

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

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Here is the problem. Most people lack the self-awareness to know whether they’re a leader or a manager, either because their team doesn’t tell them or they choose not to believe when the clues should be obvious.  

One Simple Way to Tell

There are powerful tools and strategies that can be used to improve self-awareness, like a 360° assessment or interviews with team members. While those are powerful and effective methods, there is a simple way that can expose the answer much quicker.  

What would be your team members’ answer if asked the question, “Do you love the person you work for?”  

If you want the answer to this question to be a resounding “yes,” what’s required, is for you to choose to lead by making decisions that contribute to their long term success and wellbeing.   Instead of making it complicated, there are a few small tactical ideas to help:

1. Make a “To Be” List

If you are like most professionals you make “to-do” lists each day to ensure you get the right tasks accomplished. While there is nothing wrong with these lists, there is a different kind of list I want you to make.  

During a recent interview with hall of fame speaker Simon T Bailey, he talked about the idea of creating a “to-be” lists for any manager struggling to lead. The purpose of “to-be” list is to remind you to live out the wise words of Grace Murray Hopper, “you manage things; you lead people.”

In order to create a “to be” list, open Evernote, or grab a piece of paper and write down the following and then challenge yourself to accomplish them:

  • I want to connect with my team today instead of communicating
  • I want to listen instead of having selective hearing
  • I want to be present in every interaction
  • I want to serve my team the best way possible

2. Challenge Them

The first great leader I ever worked for did something unusual that made me love working for him. He constantly challenged me. He knew I was capable of more than I was accomplishing at the time. By challenging me to raise my game, he showed me he cared about me. 

Challenging people is so important because it’s human nature to only stretch ourselves to the point where we feel discomfort. Often it takes someone challenging us to go further or reach higher for it to become a reality. 

Here is the key, having solid relationships and a strong bond of mutual trust is critical for you to challenge them in order to get a positive response. 

If you love your people, then don’t be afraid to challenge them. Eventually, they will love you back for it.

3. Practice Growth 20

I have written and often speak about Growth20, which is committing to 20 minutes a day to grow your mind and skills. In an interview, Simon T. Bailey described exactly why this is so important from a leadership perspective. 

Closing

Getting in the habit of making a “to-be” list, challenging your team, and practicing Growth 20 won’t be easy. In fact, it will be hard. But without hard work, nothing thrives. 

You’re in your position to lead and not manage. It’s my hope by implementing some of these ideas when I ask your team, “do you love the person you work for?” their answer would be a resounding “yes.”

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

How to Identify the Qualities of a Bad Leader

As he read the feedback from his team about their perception of how he was currently leading, I saw his facial expression change from excited to disappointed. He looked up and said through his camera on Zoom, “It’s hard to believe they don’t think I listen to them and that I don’t have their back.” Sitting back in his chair, he took off his readers and uttered something I will never forget:

“As hard as it is to read these comments, I respect their opinions and perspectives. I never got to voice the things that the previous managers in my career did that demotivated me. However, I have been leading this team for years, and it’s probably too late to change. 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, is that he had the ability to change, and his people would give him the opportunity to do so. No one is perfect and everyone loves a comeback story. 

Just because you’re currently a bad leader, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way

Many professionals who are in leadership positions would find themselves in a similar position if they opened up to honest feedback in a leadership skill assessment.  Based on our research of over 45k leaders, we’ve found that there are often some simple qualities that make someone a bad leader.

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Selfish

It’s no surprise that managers who are selfish are looked at as bad leaders. The challenge is all humans are naturally wired to think of ourselves first. Just think of the last time you saw a group picture on social media. Without thinking, you scan the picture looking for yourself first.  

What great leaders have figured out is that their job is to serve others not just serve their selfish desires. If you struggle with being selfish, one of the best ways to break the habit is by intentionally doing acts of service.  

I wrote about a simple technique in Building the Best called the PTS Method. Anytime you change you environment, you say “Prepare to Serve” to help shift your mindset from yourself to others. 

Poor Communicator

Effective communication is at the heart of effective leadership. James Humes famously said, “The art of communication is the language of leadership.” Bad leaders not only struggle with the proper amount of communication but they often leave their team members confused instead of clear.

It’s impossible to be an effective leader without being a great communicator

In order to be a more effective communicator focus on the 3C’s of Successful communication. Your words have to be clear, concise, and conclusive.  

Inconsistent

When leaders are inconsistent, they create a sense of uncertainty and doubt in others that is almost impossible to overcome.While this might seem obvious, being consistent with principles or standards of behavior can be one of the hardest things for any leader to master.  

Just think about all the things you need to be consistent with day in and day out in your role and life. Showing up to work on time; work ethic; being an example for others to model; setting goals and achieving them; coaching others; the list goes on and on. All of a sudden, being consistent looks like a pretty tall order.  

Micromanager

For the sake of clarity, let’s get clear on what it means to be a micromanager. Webster defines it as; “manage[ment] especially with excessive control or attention on details”.

It is common for micromanagers to have narcissistic or perfectionist tendencies which can influence how they delegate work to their team. These managers don’t believe the work can be done properly by anyone but themselves. Micromanagers typically take credit for a team’s great results but are just as ready to pass the blame for negative results. Being a micromanager is not what the best leaders do; but, at least they are involved (albeit too frequently and in the wrong way).

Oblivious 

The opposite of a leader being oblivious to the way their actions are impacting others is self-awareness. Much like the opening example, most leaders think they are self-aware but when they actually learn how their team feels and experiences their leadership, their eyes are opened. 

In a recent interview with Matt Higgins the Cofounder of RSE Ventures, he said, “Not being self-aware as a leader will cause you to fail.” Higgins is right because it’s impossible to get better if you have blind spots about how you’re currently leading. 

Disrespectful 

While the position a leader is in often comes with built-in respect, it can’t and won’t sustain respect for an extended period. Respect is earned, and it’s earned through a lot of hard work and correct decision making. As Paulo Coelho said, “Respect is for those who deserve it, not for those who demand it.”

One of the quickest ways to lose the respect of others is to treat others disrespectfully. Regardless of the role someone is in or how much experience one may have, everyone deserves to not be treated disrespectfully.  

Inflexible

Heraclitus, a famous Greek philosopher, said, “Change is the only constant in life.” Too often bad leaders get stuck in their ways and are inflexible to new and better ways of doing things. As fast as business and innovation is happening today, leaders who are inflexible are digging their own grave.  

There are a few exceptions to every rule, those leaders who are inflexible about compromising their values of right and wrong.  

Accepts Mediocrity

Good leaders define what good looks like and great leaders define what great looks like. Not only is this the case but they don’t settle for less than the standards they set. Too often bad leaders accept mediocrity when their people are capable of so much more.  

The reasons for accepting mediocrity vary, but often it centers around a limiting belief in themselves or being reluctant to have difficult conversations with others.  

Closing

While all bad leaders might not exhibit every one of these qualities at the same time, most of them show up when the pressure is high or things aren’t going their way. The good news is even if you are guilty of demonstrating these qualities at various points, remember you don’t have to stay this way.  

With a little hard work and a commitment to being the best leader you can, your brightest days are ahead. 

Virtual Leadership Development 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 lead your best. Register 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.

What makes someone a bad leader?

All leaders demonstrate certain characteristics, qualities, and behaviors. When bad leaders demonstrate these behaviors it has a negative effect on those they lead. Creating disengaged team members and underperformance.

How do you become a bad leader?

Professionals become a bad leader because they lack self-awareness around their actions and how it negatively effects others.

What is one quality of a bad leader?

Micromanagement. It is common for micromanagers to have narcissistic or perfectionist tendencies which can influence how they delegate work to their team. These managers don’t believe the work can be done properly by anyone but themselves.

Can bad managers get better?

Of course. Just because someone is currently a bad leader, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Leadership is a collection of skills that can be improved and developed.

The Uncomplicated Habit That Makes You a Leader

Business leadership concept

Traditional thinking would have you believe you need a title to be considered a leader. Conventional thinking is wrong. A title doesn’t make a leader; your actions do.  

In my book, Building the Best, I define a leader as:

“someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve in order to elevate others over an extended period of time.”

People who live out this definition don’t wait for a title — and acting this way isn’t reserved for the select few. Being a leader is for you, because when your actions inspire, empower, and serve others, not only will the performance of the people around you go up, your own performance will too.  

Research done by the Global Leadership Forecast over the last eight years has seen the continued slippage in leadership as a bench strength. In 2018, only 14 percent of companies had a strong bench, the lowest number the study has ever seen. Not only are these scary numbers, but it makes it even more critical for you to take personal responsibility for the development of your leadership skills. 

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

The business environment we work in is more competitive and has more challenges than ever before.  One leader and a group of managers in an organization is yesterday’s way of thinking. What’s required today is an army of leaders at every level of an organization. One’s that are driven by rejecting the notion that their job is all about themselves and instead focus on elevating others.

The 3 Second Habit to Help You Make the Transition

If you are going to make the transition from manager to leader it will require a lot of hard work and effort. It isn’t going to happen overnight because leadership is a journey and not a destination. But like all important transitions, it starts with choices and habits.  

My friend, Amber Selking, defined a habit on the Follow My Lead Podcast as “something you do so often it becomes the very essence of your being.” There is a simple 3-second habit you can implement to move towards a leader mentality, it’s what I refer to in Building the Best as the “PTS Method.” 

PTS stands for “Prepare to Serve.” The method is simple, anytime you change your environment, you say to yourself, “prepare to serve.”  

When you walk in the house each night before you open the door say, “prepare to serve.”

When you walk into the office each day before you open the door say, “prepare to serve.”

When you get ready to walk into a team meeting, say to yourself, “prepare to serve.”

The simple habit of transforming your mind to thinking about others and serving them will be reflected in your actions. While there are many skills and competencies to develop in order to help your transition from manager to leader, this is the simplest and most effective one I know.  

What do you do to help you keep the mindset of a leader instead of a manager?

Elevate the Way You LeadBuilding 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.

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 the Best Leaders Don’t Fall In Love With Their Title

wooden chess pieces

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

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

Take Mark, an experienced regional manager at a fast-growing company, for example. When he was first promoted to a position of leadership he was flush with excitement and passion. 

At first, he carried that passion when he interacted with team members and customers. Everything was going well, but then the pressures of the job and his team’s performance caught up. The output from his region wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t growing at the pace his venture-backed company demanded.  

Mark did was most managers in this position do, and started to put extra emphasis on people working at an accelerated pace (at the expense of everything else). He demanded performance reports be created and turned in within a couple of hours, he expected 12-14 hour days, and he denied requests for PTO.  

The result was a burned-out team who began seeking opportunities for employment elsewhere. The reason was simple: Mark didn’t focus on leading and instead focused on fulfilling the job requirement of his title.  

Sure, reports have to be run and the performance of his team matters, but solely focusing on the duties required to be a manager, supervisor, or executive is a recipe for disaster. There’s a substantial difference between the title of “manager” and the actions of a leader; one is vastly more important than the other in today’s business environment. Therein is why much of the primary roles of a manager can be automated and replaced by technology. On the other hand, there has never been a more important time in our history to be a leader.  

If you find yourself falling into the same pattern as Mark, here’s what you can do: 

Take Responsibility

Making any change starts with admitting the problem. On a recent episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast, Amir Ghannad spoke about the importance of taking responsibility. He said, “Leaders either:

1. Created the problem,

2. Contributed to the problem, or

3. Tolerated the problem.

You must be self-aware enough to realize and take responsibility for your intense focus on your title instead of your people. Start by looking in the mirror.  

Focus On Your #1 Job

I know you think your job is to execute the tasks expected of your management role. While you absolutely have to do the things required to complete the job your primary role of being in a position of leadership is to elevate others.  

I define leadership in Building the Best as someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve others to produce an improved state over an extended period of time. But simply knowing this definition isn’t enough for the most influential leaders — the real difference lies in living it out because actions speak louder than words.

I have yet to encounter a strong leader who isn’t keenly aware of how important their actions are, as far as setting an example to the people they lead. Many are borderline fanatical about the decisions they make and the positions they put themselves in.

Get a Coach 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 should have someone to coach them to higher levels of performance and be their accountability partner.

As strong and experienced as you may be, no one has all the answers. Whether you believe that professional coaching will help you or not, seeking someone else to bounce ideas off and verbalize the decisions you are making will be a key to your success.  

There is a major trend happening right now where organizational leaders are seeing the benefit of one-on-one coaching and making investments to support their people. If you find yourself in one of these situations, that’s excellent. If you aren’t, seek out support from an outside coach or partner up with a colleague and help each other.

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.

Preorder the BookBuilding the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success is being published by McGraw-Hill and is due out on November 15th. Preorder today and receive over $200 in gifts including the first two chapters immediately, Acts of Accountability Online Course, and a live webinar taught by John.

About the AuthorJohn 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. You follow him on instagram @johngeades.