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.

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5 Signs That Complacency is Killing Your Dreams

And What To Do About It!

Complacency is the silent killer of success. You enjoy some success and then you back off. You do something great and then you slow down. It’s human nature and something you must fight against. Here are five signs that complacency may be killing your dream, and what you can do about it.

1. You compare yourself to others to gauge your success

Legendary basketball coach, John Wooden said, “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”

Pro Tip: Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to the you that you are capable of becoming. Challenge yourself every day to grow in some small way.  Work on creating your personal development plan.

2. You don’t have a clear goal

Many people embrace complacency because they just don’t know where they want to go. If you don’t know where you are going any road will get you there.

Pro Tip: Spend a few minutes thinking of where you would like to be 12 months from now in your work life and in your personal life. Once you know that, determine 3-6 things that you need to do to begin moving in that direction.

3. You are not clear on your priorities

If everything seems important then nothing is important. You must be clear on your most important tasks. Most of us are trying to do too many things. We become experts at majoring on minor things.

Pro Tip: Your priorities, your BIG Rocks, should consist of the things you need to do to move closer to the goal you set in Item #2 above.

4. You fill available time with entertainment

There is nothing wrong with entertainment. What’s wrong is when you fill any open time you have with your Netflix subscription. The people I coach often tell me they don’t have time for some of the personal development suggestions I give them (Read a book, listen to a podcast, etc.). Then, when we look deeper at where their time is spent or invested we find a healthy dose of entertainment keeping them from making progress in their lives.

Pro Tip: Use your daily commute or other travel time to listen to audio books (www.audible.com). Be intentional about when you SPEND time on entertainment, and be intentional about when you INVEST time in you.

5. You use words like, “I don’t have the time”, instead of “I didn’t take the time”.

The one phrase I do not allow people to say is, “I don’t have time to…” The fact is that we all have the same amount of time. The more accurate phrasing is, “I didn’t take the time to…”

You vote on what’s important in your life (a priority) based on how you spend or invest your time. If it’s something you want to do you will find a way to do it. If not, you will find an excuse.

Pro Tip: Never use the words “I didn’t have time” again. Always say, “I didn’t take the time”. Take note of the things you did do with your time and see if it matches up to what you said was important in your life.

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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

Storytelling to Drive Results

Before I got married I am pretty sure I had never once been in an antique store. I figured I had worked hard to get a degree and get a job so I could buy new things. Why would anyone want to buy old things? But, as I said, that was before I got married. Since that time antique stores have become almost a weekly event and I am actually finally learning how to enjoy them.

One thing I notice in antique stores is how something that looks like a piece of junk can take on a completely different appearance when the person offering the junk puts a story with it. “Yes sir, that pocket watch you hold in your hands may not look like much, but let me tell you a little bit about that baby…” You might as well hand over the credit card right then.

Adding Value, Making a Connection

When I was first working my way up the public speaking ladder from one small event to another I would often overwhelm my audiences with facts and figures and PowerPoint charts that would test the limits for words on a page. I was less than engaging. Then I learned the power of stories. I decided that the minute I was introduced I would start a story. No “hello”, no “good to be here”, just a standing start right into a story. The response was amazing. My connection with the audience grew as did their engagement with me and my subject.

Why Does Story Connect

NYU Psychologist, Jonathan Haidt was quoted as saying, “The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor.” From the responses I see when I resort to story to communicate a teaching point I would say he is 100% correct.

Stories capture attention and open a door for a deeper connection. I once started a story by talking about my teenage son. I saw people in the audience begin to smile and shake their heads. “Yep, my boy does that exact same thing.” They would mouth to each other.

Stories make you seem human, especially if the story is about you and a challenge you have faced and overcome. People respond very positively to authenticity and humility in others. Plus, telling a story on yourself almost always generates a laugh and the only thing better than a story is a funny story.

Getting Started

If you think that storytelling is for creative people and you’re not creative, well you need to get over yourself and try anyway. I usually start with the point I want to make and then think of situations where that has happen to me or where I saw it happen to someone else. If I need to change names or circumstances to keep things anonymous I will do that.

Here’s an example: When my son was a teenager and looking for a job, he secured an interview with a local company. I suggested he wear a suit to the interview, but he didn’t think that was necessary for the type of job he was going for. Now, I could have argued with him about it, but instead I sat back in my chair and smiled, “That reminds me of a time when I went to an interview when I was about your age. I was applying for a stockroom job so I wore casual pants and a dress shirt. When I walked into the interview the person I was meeting barked at me, “You don’t own a suit!” I assured him I did and he barked again, “Don’t you think today would have been the day to wear it??” He dismissed me with no further questions. Turns out they did originally need stockroom help, but were now looking for certain individuals to help them up front with some customer service work. A higher paying job, might I add.”

My son looked at me and quietly said, “I’ll wear the suit.”

Stories communicate on a different level and help you connect strongly with others.

Photo Credit – www.graphicstock.com