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What Gets You Up in the Morning?

In keeping with the theme of Leadership, the following is an article published in Strategy-Business.com on March 28, 2016, written by Sally Helgeson, author, speaker and leadership development consultant, discussing positive leadership, asking the question, “What makes me leap out of bed in the morning?” rather than “What keeps you up at night?”

What keeps you up at night? It’s a question we’ve heard posed in nearly every panel and senior leader interview conducted in recent years, and as a result, it has become tiresome and rote. But I believe the effect of this query is more pernicious than simply boring — stay awake long enough to think it through, and you’ll recognize its essentially negative nature. The question assumes that leaders are in the habit — indeed, that they have a responsibility — to let worry pervade their every hour, even those precious few required to refresh, balance, and sustain human effort.

That’s why it was bracing to hear the chief economist of a global bank describe how his CEO responded to this question at a recent meeting of senior employees. “I’m sick of that question,” the CEO had said. “Besides, it misses the point. More important is: What makes me leap out of bed in the morning?

The CEO then told his listeners that “the terror of missing an opportunity” impelled him to get up every day. Within 24 hours, the bank’s shiny new headquarters became known throughout the company as “the tower of terror.” That’s hardly the most positive vision. But if we focus on the invocation of opportunity rather than terror, we’ll recognize that the CEO made an important point: It is vastly more productive to spring out of bed eager to spot new opportunities than it is to greet the day in a defensive crouch brought on by post-midnight agony fests. And it is a far more powerful way to lead an organization.

In other words: In an economy in which the harnessing of human knowledge offers the chief — and perhaps only — competitive advantage, the need to engage human talent has become paramount. And just as leaders on the lookout for opportunity can build and stimulate engagement, they also can undermine engagement by exuding negative energy.

Beverly Kaye, founder of Career Systems International, an engagement and development consultancy, is coauthor of the engagement classic Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay, now in its fifth edition (Berrett-Koehler, 2014). She has been examining the sources and advocating for the importance of employee engagement longer than anyone I know. “One of the first questions we asked people when doing our original research on engagement in the 1990s was what about their work motivated them to get out of bed in the morning,” she told me. “If you understand that, you can understand what engages people.”

People want a few basic things in their work, Kaye pointed out: “They want to feel valued, they want to be able to use their skill sets, and they want to be challenged by new ways to exercise and build those skills.” If jobs don’t give people the opportunity to fulfill these basic needs, many employees will leave — and the best are often the first to go. “And those who stay will often check out mentally and simply disengage, which from an organizational point is probably worse,” she said.

Over the years, Kaye and her researchers have also asked thousands of people why they left their organizations. “What we hear usually comes down to some variation on their not being able to see any opportunities in their job,” she said, which is why a focus on opportunities is critical in a leader. “People’s experience at work is determined by their manager, and the experience of managers is determined by those who manage them, going all the way up to senior leaders….Leaders who are optimistic about what their people can accomplish, and see challenge through the lens of opportunity, inspire confidence throughout the organization.” Optimism cascades down.

By contrast, leaders who worry excessively — the up-all-night types — can set a cautious or even frightened tone that spreads discouragement. In Kaye’s experience, “worried leaders tend to fail their people in one of two ways. They may be distracted and overlook signals people send about what they are capable of. Or they micromanage, either because they don’t trust their people or as a way of managing their own anxiety.” Both approaches inhibit morale and make it impossible to build a culture of engagement.

Over the years, Kaye and her researchers have also asked thousands of people why they left their organizations. “What we hear usually comes down to some variation on their not being able to see any opportunities in their job,” she said, which is why a focus on opportunities is critical in a leader. “People’s experience at work is determined by their manager, and the experience of managers is determined by those who manage them, going all the way up to senior leaders….Leaders who are optimistic about what their people can accomplish, and see challenge through the lens of opportunity, inspire confidence throughout the organization.” Optimism cascades down.

By contrast, leaders who worry excessively — the up-all-night types — can set a cautious or even frightened tone that spreads discouragement. In Kaye’s experience, “worried leaders tend to fail their people in one of two ways. They may be distracted and overlook signals people send about what they are capable of. Or they micromanage, either because they don’t trust their people or as a way of managing their own anxiety.” Both approaches inhibit morale and make it impossible to build a culture of engagement.

It’s interesting to note that the CEO who pushed back on the original question — “What keeps you up?” — had been chief risk assessment officer at another large financial institution. A former member of his executive team who heard about the pushback observed that the answer showed how much the CEO had grown as a leader. Worrying about what could happen, Kaye observed, is practically a job description for risk managers. “If you don’t have a few sleepless nights, you may not be doing your job,” she said. “But a CEO has a different brief. He or she needs to prepare the company for the future, which is all about seeing the opportunities in the larger picture.”

Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, my gurus in all things leadership, note in their classic work, The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations (Wiley, 1987), that successful leaders always “challenge the process.” That is, they look for opportunities to go beyond the status quo and innovative ways to improve the organization. Kouzes and Posner are clear that doing so always requires some degree of experiment and risk, as well as a willingness to accept the consequences when a risk does not pan out.

In a highly uncertain environment, that’s a pretty good prescription for what most of us can do. And recognizing it might bring us to a renewed recognition that wakeful worry does not a good leader make.

If you need help with any of this, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

Greg A. Lee is also available on Advicoach.


7 Habits of Masterful Managers Who Their Teams to Coach Success

In keeping with leadership, I’d like to share the following article published in Entrepreneur.com on 9/19/16 written by Sherrie Campbell, a psychologist, author, and speaker:

Managers are the quarterbacks and coaches of their teams. Managers with great reputations for producing the most successful teams are those who have cultivated the habits of success and leadership designed to keep their teams cohesive, motivated and driven. There is nothing more powerful than a leader who has faith in their team. Like children, the last thing any of us want to lose is the faith our parents have in us, and this dynamic plays itself out from team members to their manager. To follow are the seven habits that masterful managers utilize to guarantee team success.

1. Collaborative.

Managers who collaborate rather than command create team cohesion and positive morale. Collaborating doesn’t put anyone down. Commanding managers are arrogant, emotionally violent and secure results through the production of fear and game-playing. These types of managers may see results, but their team members and customers will show high turnover, producing only short-term successes.

The most lucrative and stable path to getting results is through collaboration. There is something deeply bonding when working together to secure common goals. Team members learn to model the collaborative vibe of their manager and apply it amongst each other and also with customers. Great managers know that collaborating in any endeavor, inside or outside of the company, produces the most worthwhile results.

Related: How Complaining Rewires Your Brain for Negativity

2. Relationship oriented.

Great managers, manage people not numbers.  Although numbers are important, the purest method to get employees to work hard is for them to work for and receive approval. Approval is the greatest form of payment. Numbers are non-emotional. They have no lasting impact on self-worth because there are always going to be higher numbers to meet.

Under a relationship-oriented manager, where approval and encouragement are woven into the fabric of the relationship, team members become unafraid to reach for higher quotas. They come to believe they can meet them, and to keep the faith of their manager, are more motivated to do so. The more relationship-oriented a manager is, the more team members are willing to perform because they are receiving the guidance and encouragement the need instead of fear and punishment.

3. Give credit.

Great managers give credit wherever and whenever credit is due. They do not have the selfishness or arrogance to need to take credit for the success of their team to feed their own ego. In fact, managers who are collaborative prefer that team members receive the credit for their results. When the team gets the credit, it cultivates a deeper drive within them to work hard to earn that type of credit again and again. This makes work a pleasant and fun place to be.

People who enjoy work and the dynamics they share with upper management, are those who feel good about sacrifice and working hard because there is purpose and reward driving them internally. When teams are given credit it allows them to experience the fruits of their labor, providing them with a deep sense of passion and satisfaction for what they are doing.

Related: 6 Ways to Work Less but Get More Done

4. Equal treatment.

Cohesion on any team is the x-factor for success. For this reason, great managers treat each individual team members according to their unique gifts. Wise managers avoid playing favorites; only preferring to work closely with those members who get their numbers. Equal time and equal treatment are vital to the development of team cohesion, as it rids teams of destructive emotions such as jealousy, which can be hugely destructive.

When managers play favorites, the team is fragmented by the divide and conquer approach set by the manager, creating animosity between members. Animosity inevitably leads to people trying to cheat and or undermine others on their own team. While managers will naturally work better with some members more easily than others, differential treatment goes directly against any formula of success. Equal treatment doesn’t take away individuality. Each team member is coached individually based on the strengths and weaknesses the manager identifies. Equal time given to all members creates positive morale between team members and their manager.

5. Open.

Effective managers are humble, not know-it-all’s. Rank doesn’t always reflect knowledge, especially in a world that is on the fast track of change with the continual advances in technology. Those who manage well, listen and learn from their team members and take in what they bring to table before advising or directing them. Great managers are open to learning and also open to receiving feedback from their team on what more they may need from them or others in management.

Know-it-all managers see themselves as perfect and above their team, instilling a great divide between themselves and their connection with team members. No one wants to approach a know-it-all with a problem, out of the desire to avoid confrontation or condemnation. Hence, more mistakes are made in the know-it-all environment because communication is low, not always forthright and stress is high. Managers who are willing to listen and learn succeed and get results because the issues in need of discussion are comfortably on the table for analyzation.

Related: Deepak Chopra’s 7 Ways to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

6. Sensing.

Successful and well-liked managers are like a “players coach.” They are sensing people who pay attention to both immediate data from their five senses and data from their own direct experience. They develop understanding from conscious thought, rather than trusting their subconscious and are happy to dig into the fine detail of the situations they are in with their team. In other words, they focus on what is immediate, practical and real, and manage in a reality-based framework supportive of their team, rather than trying to change what is not under their control.

Sensing managers are grounded in logic and manage in practical and realistic ways. They like to pursue things with a well-devised plan, having the details worked out in advance. These types of managers are phenomenal because they serve to ground the more emotionally labile moments experienced by team members in uncertain situations. Team members can come to their manager to calm down and gain perspective, giving them the ability to be rational and think things through intelligently.

7. Intuitive.

Masterful managers are able to be sensing and intuitive in tandem. They are able to process data rationally while also following their gut feelings when risk is necessary, or when their gut feeling is so intense that it is the only correct decision to make. Although they often trust and rely upon patterns and practical data, they are also great at predicting or intuiting patterns of behavior and market trends, allowing them to get out of the detail and into a higher level view.

Being intuitive takes managers out of the practicality of the now into a more future-focused mindset.  A future-focused mindset is the driving force of innovation amongst a manager and their team. An intuiting manager encourages team members to dream and imagine, provoking all members out of their comfort zones into acquiring new skills and towards the development of news ideas.

Related Book: No B.S. Ruthless Management of People & Profits, 2nd Edition by Dan S Kennedy

Masterful managers show a high degree of sensitivity to team members, and encourage them to operate with a high degree of respect and sensitivity to each other. When equal-treatment is the management style all members have equal voice where each has the chance to speak and express their ideas. Equal treatment leads to a collaborative environment where everyone feels important. Mangers who create teams with the foundation of these elements are successful in the short and long term. Great managers believe in their purpose, their individual team members and all that it takes for everyone to feel satisfied, happy, motivated and successful. The morale created by these elite mangers guarantees personal and professional success and esteem.

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We hope you master these 7 habits to lead your team to success. If you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

Greg A. Lee is also available on Advicoach.


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