When Was the Last Time Someone Brought You Bad News?

5 Indicators of Highly Approachable People

Some years ago, as the father of teenagers, it occurred to me one day that all I was hearing from them was the good things that were happening. There were no challenges, no issues, and no bad news. About the same time I was leading a team of sales people who were exhibiting the same communication characteristics. It then occurred to me that teenagers and sales people have a lot in common. What both groups seemed to have forgotten is that I was once a teenager and I was once a sales person. There are issues, there are challenges and there is the occasional bad news.

If people are comfortable sharing the bad news with you then you are more than likely an approachable individual. If not, then perhaps one or more of the following five indicators of approachable people is keeping you from deep and meaningful relationships.

Approachable leaders, whether leading at home or at work, engage their followers at a high level and increase their performance and their results.

The 5 Indicators of Highly Approachable People

  1. Authenticity – approachable people are real people. They don’t pretend to have it all together when they don’t. They don’t perform for others, they are comfortable just being themselves with all the good and bad that comes with that.
  2. Consistency of Mood – It’s tempting to over celebrate the good and over condemn the bad. If you exhibit large mood swings people will avoid doing or saying anything to “set you off”. Mind the gap between stimulus (someone sharing bad news) and your response. If there is little or no gap you are reacting not responding and that almost never goes well.
  3. Confess Mistakes – I was wondering why teenage son did not confess his mistakes to me when it occurred to me that I never confessed my own mistakes to him (or anyone). I seemed perfect and the last thing anyone wants to do is confess mistakes to a perfect person. While I wasn’t meaning to come off as perfect, I was trying not to seem weak, and that’s what I thought mistakes said about me. Sharing mistakes opens the door to what Dr. John Maxwell calls, “Failing Forward”. Once we began to share openly we could help each other to learn and grow from every mistake.
  4. Ability to Forgive – people who are not forgiving of the shortcomings of others will not do well in the drive to be more approachable. If you ask for forgiveness and easily forgive those who have wronged you, then you do not allow walls to be constructed between you and others.
  5. Others Oriented – if all of life is about you, then you are not an approachable person. Approachable people value others and make them feel valued. If you put other people first then it becomes easy to celebrate with those who celebrate and mourn with those who mourn. Someone else being successful does not take anything away from you.

Bonus: Mind Your Face – Smile more! People are drawn to people who greet them with a smile!

When you increase your approachability you will increase your influence with others. Increasing your influence will increase their desire to engage with you in whatever you are trying to accomplish. Higher engagement equals improved performance equals better results.

10 Half-truths About High Engagement Leadership

Many leaders have the best intentions when it comes to how they lead and engage their teams. But, employee engagement worldwide is at the lowest levels in years. Why is that? Well, it is mostly because you cannot be successful on what you intend to do, only what you actually do. And doing it half-way won’t get your there either.

Are you guilty of any of these half-truths?

1. My people understand that I have a very demanding job.

This may be true, but what they also know is that where you spend your time is an indicator of what you value most. And if it is not with them then you risk disengaging your team. Demanding job or not, make time, regular time to spend with each individual on your team.

2. My people know that I need them.

This may be true, but do you value them? Needing someone is more about you and meeting your needs. Valuing them is more about them and will lead to a highly engaged team. Not feeling valued is the #1 reason people disengage and eventually leave their jobs.

3. My people know that I care about them.

This may be true, but do you show care to them on a regular basis? Care is in the eye of the beholder. What may be received as care by one person might be an annoyance to another. If you are caring for people in the way that you feel cared for you may be missing the mark. Learn what shows care to each individual and DO THAT.

4. My people know that I appreciate their need to be autonomous.

This may be true, but do you truly allow them to be autonomous? Micro-managing your team can lead to animosity and most likely a disengaged teammate. Provide guidance and offer help, but let people do the job you hired them to do.

5. My people are clear on my expectations of them.

This may be true, but do you frequently review expectations and results with the individuals on your team? Maintaining a constant dialog of what you expect and how they are doing against those expectations is important to high engagement.

6. My people understand that I give feedback when I can.

This may be true, but not giving feedback, for whatever reason, is a sure way to lose the engagement of your team. Feedback (what you are doing well and where you need to improve) is a key factor in showing people you value them. Value me = high engagement from me!

7. My people understand that I give coaching when I can.

This may be true, but if you don’t have time to coach me and help me improve then what am I doing here? People are motivated and engaged when they are moving toward mastery. Your willingness to coach shows you value their mastery too.

8.My people understand that I make the decisions

This may be true, but when you don’t expect me to have a point of view I disengage. When you expect me to think like this is my business engages me at a much higher level. When you are always the one stepping up, I am the one that is stepping back. Stepping back = disengagement.

9. My people know they can trust me.

This may be true, but what actions are you taking to increase trust with me? How do I know I can trust you? What things do you intentionally do to increase trust with every person you lead? It only takes one thing to erode the trust between us.

10. My people know that I am here to help them.

This may be true, but are you actively looking for ways to help? Help me grow my skills. Help me grow my capabilities. Help me get promoted. Help me find my greatness. Helping me shows you value me and increases my engagement.

High engagement leadership is a leadership competency and requires intentional acts over time. If you are able to transform these half-truths to FULL TRUTHS you will find you have a fully engaged and high performing team.

Photo Credit: Graphicstock.com

All Of Us Are Smarter Than One Of Us

I once worked for a senior executive who said, “If our success is dependent on my brains alone, we are in trouble.” He made it clear that he expected each of us to participate by thinking about the business as if it were our own. I learned this about him the hard way, but it is a lesson I will never forget.

One day, during our regular staff meeting, after he had just made a presentation to the team about what we would be doing over the next six months, he looked at me and asked me what I thought.

Being quick-witted and always looking for a laugh, I said, “I think what you think boss; what do you think?”

There were a few chuckles around the room as my boss sat back in his chair.

“Can I give you a tip?” he asked me.

“Sure.”, I said, sitting up a little bit straighter in my chair.

He leaned in a bit and loud enough for everyone to hear said, “If you and I think the same thing then one of us won’t be necessary, and it won’t be me!”

I thought that was a pretty good tip and it taught me a lesson that I have passed on to every person on every team that I ever led – you should always be prepared with a point of view. If you do not have a point of view on what is being discussed then decline the meeting.

My boss was right, all of us are smarter than one of us and he insisted that each of us think like business owners, not like hired hands. He knew that if he could leverage the 10 smart people in the room his chances of leading us to success went up by a factor of 10.

Photo Credit – www.graphicstock.com

The Champ

A Life Lesson from 20 Minutes with Muhammad Ali

IMG_3631Muhammad Ali died this week. And although he may be gone, he will never be forgotten, especially by me. Here’s why…

In 1982, just out of university and working my first job, I saw a newspaper article that The Champ was in Atlanta and speaking at a corporate meeting. What you may not know about me is that since I was 17 years old or so I began collecting the autographs of the athletes on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine. I did this because it gave me an opportunity to meet some of the men and women I had idolized growing up and get a feeling for what they were really like. If you have a favorite athlete I have probably met them. When I stopped collecting I had close to 200 signed magazines. Muhammad Ali held the record for the most SI Covers at 40, until being eclipsed by Michael Jordan (50). In 1999, Sports Illustrated named Muhammad Ali, the Sportsman of the Century.

As I sat there looking at his picture in the Atlanta paper I knew I needed to take action if I ever wanted to meet one of the top sports figures in the world, so I picked up the phone and called the hotel where the meeting he was speaking at was being held. When the hotel operator answered I asked if they had a Mr. Muhammad Ali registered there. She said yes and asked if I would like her to ring his room. She did, The Champ answered and I had my chance to present my case.

My knees were shaking, but thankfully my voice remained calm. I told Mr. Ali that I was a big fan and saw that he was in town and wondered if I could meet him and get his autograph on my magazine. Why he didn’t immediately hang up I would not learn for a few hours, instead he told me his agenda and that he would be returning to the hotel at 3pm and if I wanted to come then, that’s when he would be there. I hung up the phone and thought I was going to be sick.

I ran home to grab whatever SI’s I had with him on the cover and headed to downtown Atlanta and the Hyatt Regency hotel. Once in the lobby I found a place to plant myself and keep watch until The Champ Arrived. At about 2:45pm I noticed one of the local Atlanta news stations sports guy, Ken Huber strolling through the lobby with a camera guy and a producer in tow. They went to the elevator and headed upstairs. Fortunately the Hyatt has glass elevator that can be viewed all the way to the top floors. I made a mental note of what floor they went to.