What You Want from Your Leaders

You spoke. My informal LinkedIn poll asked: in your opinion, what behavior undermines a leader’s influence the most? I had colleagues betting on which of the four answers would rise to the top. A few said they couldn’t choose, because they were all important. No doubt.

Where does your choice align with the following results?

  • Micro-managing your work: 27%
  • Under-appreciating your value: 23%
  • Not providing clear direction: 21%
  • Failing to meet commitments: 29%

Although these are only a handful of leadership behaviors, what conclusions might be gleaned from the limited data.

  • With the highest percentage of votes for “failing to meet commitments”, what is this behavior really measuring? I’d propose it undermines the foundation of trust in any relationship. The resulting mindset: if I can’t count on you to do what you said you’d do, I can’t trust you.
  • “Micro-managing your work” received the second highest number of votes. Again, what does this behavior imply about the leader’s relational influence? I’d suggest that direct reports would infer that their leader didn’t trust them to deliver the quality of work and/or meet important deadlines.

As a leader, when was the last time you evaluated and then developed a plan to expand the trust factor with your direct reports, your teams, and even your family members? Trust is the foundation of every relationship in your life. Without trust, anything you build on its shaky foundation has a high risk of toppling. If you value leadership, you’ll spend some time exploring the value of trust in what you do, what you say, and how you lead.

About the Author:Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership, sales, and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life story. She administers assessments, designs, and facilitates workshops, and coaches individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Virtual Leadership: Remote Working Best Practices

The new virtual work world has created new work rules, which in turn should cause virtual leaders to pivot. The days of having a private, face-to-face, distraction-free conversation in the privacy of a manager’s office are minimized or even over for some. Now many leaders see their people through a computer screen, and only if the camera is on. You could say virtual leaders have lost their peripheral vision.

What does that mean for a leader? It means that a virtual leader can’t see what’s going on in the shadows. Virtual work calls for the leader to shine a spotlight in more dark spaces. Yes, there’s plenty going on in the shadows of the people you may be talking with on Zoom that’s affecting their mindset, attention, focus, and engagement.

Virtual leaders, whether of their staff or teams, need to adopt new leadership skills, because the demands and pulls on people look different than when they worked in the office. People are more stressed out, burned out, pulled away, and working in ad-hoc home offices. Before virtual work, employees were already complaining about death-by-meeting. Just when they thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. Many say they’d trade a virtual meeting for an office meeting any day.

Virtual leaders have a greater responsibility than ever before to run productive and meaningful meetings as well as lead people through the distractions. Below are some of the best practices of the best virtual leaders.

  1. Check in on people through a call, email, text, or card, having nothing to do with work. This helps to compensate for the hallway and water cooler talk where people connected beyond the scope of work.
  2. Call a virtual meeting, only when it’s the best choice of communication, feedback, dissemination of information, or problem solving. Our work culture has gotten lazy in thinking through how to best communicate, and they readily adopt a “let’s call a meeting and get everyone together”.
  3. Clearly state up front the meeting objectives and the decisions that need to be made before adjourning.
  4. Invite only those who contribute in some way to the meeting’s objective. Others who need to know the decision can be informed later by other means.
  5. Distribute a meeting agenda beforehand, so all attendees can prepare and focus on the objectives when they sign on.
  6. Ask attendees if there are any issues or distractions that may come up during the virtual meeting. If so, give them permission to leave the meeting at their discretion. This shines the spotlight in the dark places that distract attendees and shows empathy and support as a leader.
  7. Give attendees permission to drop visually, if connectivity bandwidth becomes faulty.
  8. Manage the meeting to the designated schedule.
  9. Invite people to engage in the conversation. People are more apt to speak up in a face-to-face meeting and tend to be more reserved in virtual settings. Ask specific people what they think.
  10. Ask how the meeting could have been improved before adjourning. The best question: “What could we have done more or less of to make it a more effective meeting?”

Many of these virtual leader best practices are powerful even outside of the remote work environment. However, the new normal requires leaders to show more empathy and respect for people’s distractions and time. The best remote leaders also ask their employees what they need more or less of to be successful in their jobs and working in their home environments.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life stories. She administers assessments, designs, and facilitates workshops, and coaches individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Global Leadership Summit 2018: Craig Groeschel’s Leadership Message

Having just returned from a week in Bogota, Colombia, teaching, training, and discussing leadership in some of the poorest neighborhoods, I was refreshed by the speakers and their messages at Global Leadership Summit (GLS). GLS is one of my favorite annual leadership conferences, because a pool of talented global business and ministry leaders share their learnings and research on how to be a better leader.

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A major theme that resonated with me during this year’s 2-day event was the unabashed embrace of failure as part of a leader’s experience and growth. Many top speakers shared their vulnerable stories of personal failure, emphasizing how failure was part of the journey that grew them into the leadership role they had today. In my opinion, shining a light on failure and how it can be used as a tool for future leadership success was long overdue.

In these times, failure is deemed a sign of weakness. Many people wear the embroidered scarlet letter “F” not on their lapel but on their mind. People go to great lengths to diminish, excuse, deny or hide failure. Helicopter parents were born out of the fear that their children would fail. The sad truth is that failure is inevitable if you take any risk. How refreshing for some of today’s leaders like Danielle Strickland, David Livermore, Erwin McMannus, Danny Meyer, Carla Harris, and Angela Ahrendts to share powerful stories of failure and great success.

If you didn’t attend GLS 2018, be sure to sign up for next year’s summit, read what Craig Groeschel had to say about leadership, and stay tuned for more summaries of top leaders you missed this year.

  • Bosses believe they need to get better at technology and finances. On the other hand, polled direct reports say their bosses need to get better at leadership and emotional intelligence. Employees are more concerned with: (1) Where are you taking me? and (2) How are you treating me?
  • Great leaders steward power for the benefit of others, have profound humility by believing they can learn from others, and have furious resolve.
  • People follow leaders who value them, inspire them, and empower them.
    • Value people by saying, “I notice…” and “You matter…” Appreciate people more than you should by saying it, showing it, writing it, and celebrating it. Make people feel important.
    • Inspire employees by being a centered leader who is secure, stable, confident, fully engaged, purpose-driven, reflective in behaviors, has a mission, and lives out consistent values. The payoff is that inspired employees produce twice as much as satisfied ones. Employees may not know when they are working for a centered leader, but they sure know when they are not. Inspired people also want to work for a vision bigger than the business that can transform a job into a calling.
    • Empower people to unleash higher performance. You can have control or growth by you cannot have both. When you delegate tasks, you create followers, and when you delegate authority, you create leaders. Don’t put a lid on your employees. Leaders only make the decisions they can make and delegate all others to the organization. The best leaders make fewer and fewer decisions and frequently say, “You decide…” If you don’t trust your team you are either too controlling or you have the wrong people. Either way, the problem is yours to solve.
  • People look for a leader to be honest, have integrity, and be vulnerable. Great leaders have the courage to be real and transparent.

As you reflect on each of these key messages, which one could you improve upon most that would make a difference in your leadership capacity?

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Behaviors That Make You a Better Leader

lead learnWhen you recall those times you were led well, what were some of the affirming behaviors that stood out to you in those leaders?  Because leadership is about influence, we are all affected by leadership acting within our lives.  We learn about leadership by reflecting and putting into practice those behaviors that we feel were constructive in our success.  I share a few traits that I believe great leaders embrace based on my role models.  Better leaders do the following:

  1. Create a productive work environment by reducing bureaucracy and minimizing roadblocks. Although they don’t do the work, they create an atmosphere where the team and its individuals can get their jobs done.
  2. Acknowledge and give credit to those who do the work. Credit can be recognized for effort, creativity, and results.
  3. Encourage and praise. Leaders are intentional in identifying and calling out specific things that warrant recognition.  They don’t simply use flowery language such as “great job” but provide concrete examples that demonstrate that they recognize the value of the contribution.
  4. Never micro-manage but are liberal in their coaching. They understand the strengths and weaknesses of their team, brainstorm with its members, challenge with powerful questions, and ensure the team has the resources to tackle the job.
  5. Create a safe environment where people don’t feel threatened to take reasonable risks. They don’t focus on punishment and expect people to learn from their mistakes.
  6. Provide clear vision and objectives, set priorities, describe desired outcomes, and define appropriate boundaries. They understand the importance of helping the team to focus.
  7. Genuinely care about their teams. Leaders respectfully learn about the non-work lives of the people they support and have insight in how other life areas may influence job performance.

What leadership characteristics are you strongest?  What weaknesses could you improve upon to grow your leadership?  If you’ve identified another leadership trait that impressed you, tell me about it by leaving a comment.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.