Author Archives: David Grossman

Gaining 2020 Vision: 4 Keys to Leveraging Self-Awareness

Gaining 2020 Vision | Leadership Worth Following

This time of the year, attention shifts to making resolutions, taking personal inventories, or charting paths to greater self-awareness. While such contemplation can be healthy and motivating, it can also lead to paralysis, evidenced by inaction and non-productive navel-gazing. How can you move beyond self-awareness to the hard – yet satisfying and necessary – work of making changes? Here are four keys:

1) Being Intentional

Once you’re aware that something needs to change, try to clearly understand what is driving that behavior. If it’s a bad habit, is there a certain trigger? Maybe even another bad habit behind the one you’re trying to change? An example could be overeating one day when you don’t get enough sleep the night before. Or maybe a certain person, thought pattern, or value triggers you. For instance, you might tend to emotionally overreact when someone criticizes one of your ideas.

The first step to self-improvement is gaining next-level self-awareness – the kind you cannot gain just by introspection. This will require some tough, direct feedback, supported by clear data and outside perspectives, etc. Once you have that deep self-awareness, it’s time to create a behavioral action plan.

2) Thinking Differently

If the behavior you’re trying to change is rooted in a pattern of unhelpful thinking, you’ll need to attack that thought pattern. Maybe you become really rigid and prevent others from being creative, because you believe the only path to success is to never make mistakes. Even if there’s some truth to that thought process, we need to give ourselves more flexibility and freedom to think differently. Like it or not, it’s impossible to always do what drives and inspires us. Sometimes we have to do what drains us, and we need to find a healthy way to cope. One way to counter a mindset you’re trying to change is to proactively look for disconfirming evidence – try to prove yourself wrong!

3) Building Skills

This one may be the most obvious. If there’s something that is emotionally draining, but you want or need to improve, it may be draining to you simply because it’s difficult for you. After all, few people love doing things they’re terrible at. If this is the case for you, then it’s time to build skills in those areas: learn, find a mentor, practice, etc.

To elevate your skill-building, target one thing aligned with your drivers. For example, if you’re really driven by having a big impact and you know the ability to persuade is important, but you’re low on charisma, maybe take a course on storytelling or join a Toastmasters club.

4) Changing your Context

If all else fails, realize that – in many ways – you are responsible for your own situation. Change could mean finding a new job or just modifying your current job to better align with your strengths.

Productive change might include allocating more non-work time to pursuits you find energizing. If you are driven by collaboration, for example, but you work in an isolated, individual role, consider joining a book club, sports league, or service organization.

These four keys – being intentional, thinking differently, building skills, and changing your context – can make a vital difference in moving from passive self-awareness to dynamic action. The impact can help springboard you to a more enjoyable and productive 2020.

​To learn more about what drives and drains you at work, consider taking our DRiV™ personality assessment.

5 Tips for Mellowing Hyper-Perseverance

You enjoy powering through projects, obstacles and challenges – persevering is one of your core strengths – and one of the four core Adaptability Quotient (AQ) drivers identified in our November 4 blog. A never-give-up mindset can be an asset in the workplace. If you’re a highly persistent person, the idea of “persevering despite conflicts, etc.” probably resonates strongly with you.


Risks of Hyper-Perseverance

But what are the downsides? If you’re not careful, such resolve can harden inflexibly into hyper-perseverance, until you’re telling yourself: “I can never give up, I cannot let anything distract me or get in my way.” This attitude can cause problems by sabotaging your own mental health and job performance – increasing your risk of burnout. Burnout was officially recognized as an “occupational phenomenon” by the World Health Organization earlier this year.

5 Tips to Mellow Out: Here are 5 tips to soften your hyper-perseverance:

1 – Consider your time, attention, and energy as finite, non-renewable resources to be managed carefully. Everyone hits a wall at some point, so don’t over-commit;


2 – Conserve your brain power by leveraging “brain dumps” frequently: using to-do lists, timelines, reminders, including utilizing technology tools.


3 – Beware the false productivity trap by evaluating your busyness against your accomplishments. What is the ROI on your time?


4 – Watch for tendency to “dig in your heels” and try even harder when you’re stuck. Instead, pause, take a step back, and consider other alternatives.


5 – Incorporate meditation and mindfulness practices to help de-clutter and focus your mind.

 

Are You At Risk?

What are your own attitudes and behaviors around hyper-perseverance? How are your AQ and leadership ability impacted? To learn more about your risk factors, strengths and vulnerabilities, consider taking our DRiV personality assessment. You’ll gain valuable insights into your own motivations for work and life.

Click here to learn more.

Adaptability Improves Leadership: 4 Tips for Growth

Boost Your AQ | Leadership Worth Following

Do you want to demonstrate leadership worth following? Would you like to develop your “ability to guide, direct, or influence people in a way that has great merit, character, and value”? If so, learn to be more adaptable.

​Our research findings show that people rated as “highly adaptable” score 4 times higher on the ability to demonstrate worthy leadership. These people could be described as possessing a high “Adaptability Quotient” (AQ) – the ability to thrive in an environment of change, like today’s dynamic workplaces.

​To understand how leaders can increase their AQ, we analyzed our 360 survey data from over 10,000 respondents, looking for behaviors that most differentiate high-AQ people. From that research, here are four tips for leadership growth:

1) Persevere Confidently

Do you persevere on tasks despite conflicts, roadblocks, and setbacks? Do you project credibility and confidence, with a relaxed sense of self?

​Build your own AQ on a strong, consistent foundation. Flitting like a butterfly from one activity to the next, giving up too quickly, or coming across as scared or intimidated projects your own indecisiveness and cowardice, not a high AQ. For people to see you as adaptable, they have to know you are making changes for a reason, and that you are in control.

2) Decide Wisely

Do you try to understand others’ motives and behaviors? Do you make effective, timely decisions? Can you focus on long-term goals while also achieving short-term results?

Your own decision-making skills impact your AQ. Sometimes a quick decision is needed, and other times it’s wiser to deliberate longer, which also affords more time to consider multiple people’s perspectives and concerns. In a similar way, there are times to zoom out for the big picture and other situations where it’s best to dive into the weeds and execute!

3) Navigate Carefully

Do you help resolve conflicts for the best solutions? Can you manage challenging relationships and internal politics? Will you share your authority?

Handling relationships and internal politics well strengthens your AQ. Tackle the “tough stuff” and help others work through challenges, instead of shying away. Strive to see both sides of issues and encourage everyone to reach mutual understanding so they can feel good about the outcome. Accomplish this without issuing mandates or “pulling rank” on others.

4) Reflect Internally

Are you keenly aware of your motives and behavior, and the impact on others? Can you translate others’ feedback to you and your own life lessons into action?

Watching your impact and the outcome of your actions increases your AQ. Remove blinders that can obscure problems or deficiencies with the status quo. Lean into greater self-awareness to challenge your assumptions. Be passionate about soliciting feedback – and acting on it! While boosting your self-awareness, don’t forget to maintain your confidence and consistency.

 
By careful thought and these four actions — persevering, deciding, navigating, and reflecting — you can raise your own AQ and more capably demonstrate leadership worth following.

4 Ingredients for Winning Work Teams

4 Ingredients to a Winning Team | Leadership Worth Following

What makes a winning work team? Equating winning only to “high performance” misses other crucial elements, notably engagement and burnout. If team members are performing well in the short term, but are disengaged or burning out, the team’s long-term performance will suffer, perhaps irreparably.

To help evaluate team effectiveness and support the long-term success of work teams, we recently created a 19-item questionnaire built on established team-process measures. Using Dr. Eduardo Salas’ decades worth of research on what makes up effective teams, we developed a comprehensive, yet concise, measure of team processes that lead to team effectiveness.

It’s also the foundation of our ongoing research that revealed these top four ingredients of winning teams: Consideration, Trust, Feedback Culture and Celebrating Team Success. These four ingredients not only help teams ensure they are engaging in behaviors that encourage high performance, but these behaviors also enhance team member engagement and act as a buffer against team member burnout. This article defines each and offers improvement tips.

Ingredient #1: Consideration.

Ensuring that all teammates feel encouraged, listened to, respected, and included.

Improvement Tips:

  • Take time to hear out other team members’ ideas. This could be done by holding brainstorming sessions to help solve team problems.
  • Make sure to allow all team members, regardless of rank, to provide input when making team decisions. Include all team members whenever possible – do not exclude someone based on a perception that they have nothing to add.
  • When others do speak up, ensure they are not shot down or made to feel bad for speaking up.

Ingredient #2: Trust.

Trusting each other enough to bring up tough issues and take risks.

Improvement Tips:

  • Psychological safety is paramount. Help ensure the environment is open and welcoming enough so team members feel comfortable bringing up tough issues.
    This trust must be established over time, especially if it has been broken before.
  • To help build trust, ensure others are truly heard and respected when they bring up tough issues. Do not shame or embarrass anyone for bringing up issues with the team.
  • Do not take it personally and don’t get defensive when team members challenge your ideas. This will enable the team to be more effective, as members will feel safe enough to challenge others’ ideas to find better solutions while truly utilizing all team members’ inputs. More heads are better than one!

Ingredient #3: Feedback Culture.

Providing each other with helpful feedback if there are unmet standards or unfulfilled obligations.

Improvement Tips:

  • Be open to feedback from other team members, and do not react negatively when feedback is given. Consider it an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve performance.
  • Do not be scared to give feedback, especially if it will help improve team performance moving forward. When giving feedback, do not be harsh, critical, or judgmental, and do not place blame on anyone. Instead, frame feedback as an opportunity to make the team more effective.

Ingredient #4: Celebrating Team Success.

Allowing ourselves to enjoy it when our team has succeeded.

Improvement Tips:

  • Recognize a job well done. Take the time to celebrate how a team’s success comes from collective efforts. Avoid focusing solely on the task aspects – celebrate the people and their efforts!
  • Create a work environment that fosters celebrations of success. Devote time during team meetings to “celebrate something good” – encourage each member to share some positive team news or have the team leader take time up front to acknowledge the job well done.

Taking My Own Medicine

By Chris Coultas, Director of Science & Research; Senior Consultant

For most of us, it’s easy to notice the things that other people could be doing differently, but harder to objectively look at ourselves in the mirror. For the past several years, I’ve spearheaded development of the DRiV™ personality assessment tool here at LWF. Recently I “took my own medicine” by leveraging our new DRiV360 development report with my personal DRiV profile. The results made an immediate, positive impact on my work style and results. Here’s what happened:

BEFORE: My Work Style & Environment.

My own DRiV report shows I’m very low in Deliberation and Charisma, and high in Creativity and Autonomy. In other words, I like moving fast, coming up with new ideas all the time, and figuring out solutions alone. Being low in Charisma means it’s uncomfortable and draining for me to go through the process of convincing people, especially if I have to appeal to others’ emotions to help them see things from my perspective.

​Maybe in some situations this combination of drivers would not cause any problems, but in a culture that values collaboration and alignment, this can be tricky. I want to go fast, be creative, and do my own thing, but the culture needs me to collaborate, loop others in, solicit input, and so on. And of course, resources like people, time, and money are not unlimited, so I cannot chase every new idea that pops into my head. At any rate, while my Creativity is a strength, given my role as Director of Science & Research, it can also be a liability if not managed appropriately.

My DRiV360 Analysis.

We recently developed the DRiV360, a multi-rater feedback tool that complements the DRiV assessment. While my DRiV report highlights areas where I will probably overdo or overlook certain things, the DRiV360 helps test those hypotheses.

I wanted a taste of my own medicine, and I wanted to test those hypotheses (I am a scientist, after all). So I took the DRIV360 for myself, which involved soliciting feedback from multiple people in our organization: my leader, peers/colleagues, direct reports, and others. They were all asked whether I should do more of or less of various behaviors tied to my DRiV report. Considering my drivers, I expected that my DRiV360 feedback from others would be: slow down, stop being so creative, and focus on one thing while letting other stuff drop.

My DRiV360 Findings.

Surprisingly, I found that people appreciated my creativity. They did want me to slow down and collaborate more — no surprise there. The most helpful insight was that I could keep being creative (which drives me), as long as I could start leveraging a more effective collaborative process. I needed to communicate more often and more clearly, soliciting others’ input and assistance earlier.

I also should define goals better and take a more linear approach. These findings were in line with my DRiV report, but the DRiV360 gave me a completely different perspective on my own drivers. It offered me greater insight into what specifically I needed to do differently. Even better, I was encouraged to learn that some of my top drivers (e.g., Creativity) were valued and appreciated, with people wanting me to do even more of them.

AFTER: Applying New Knowledge.

The DRiV360 process provided clear, behavioral feedback I could literally apply the next day. I was managing a new project the same week I received the feedback, so I applied the DRiV360 insights to my preparations. In the past, I typically under-emphasized the importance of internal project kickoff meetings. I realized I had been under-preparing and was being too reactive. Because of my DRiV360 feedback, I took a more proactive approach to preparing for this meeting and considering the proper collaborative process.

This effort paid huge dividends. The leadership team was incredibly supportive of the project, we all had clear next steps, and the project was completed on-time and far exceeded expectations.

As a developer of the DRiV and DRiV360, it was gratifying and inspiring to experience the benefits firsthand. I’ll continue “taking my own medicine” and look forward to further insights.


How About You?

Interested in learning about how the DRiV and DRiV360 can positively impact you, your team and your organization? Are you a consultant who would like to add these powerful tools to your toolkit?
Please contact LWF for more information.

Building a Strong Bench: 6 Tips for Leadership Succession Planning

Building a Strong Bench | Leadership Worth Following

For sports teams, it’s understood that building a strong bench is a key factor for success. Through coaching and individualized training, reserve players are prepared to assume starting roles when needed. For organizations to enjoy long-term success, they must also build strong benches. Here are 6 leadership succession planning tips:

 

1 Understand Strategy & Structure.

As a first step, review current processes and practices. Conduct leadership and board interviews on organizational strategy and structure: current thoughts/feelings on succession; existing organizational situation, including internal and external challenges; desired talent profile; and importance of candidates’ competency ratings (using 12-factor Worthy Leadership Model). Armed with this information, identify your talent needs that fit both the structure and strategy.

2 Look to Future.

It’s said the only constant is change. To ensure long-term sustainability, envision what will be needed 5-10+ years out – in terms of talent, strategy, and structure – rather than only trying to replicate the current personnel and infrastructure. Blend a desire for continuity with the need for innovation and change.

3 Identify “Multiple Good” Options.

Keep your possibilities open by not narrowing selections too soon. For internal candidates, review recent job performance and recommendations from leadership. Evaluate possible internal successors ready now or those who could be ready after professional development. If finding or developing strong internal candidates is unlikely, formulate a plan for looking outside using description of talent needs outlined earlier.

4 Create a Process.

Beginning with initial assessments, understand you will need to revisit the leadership succession planning process many times, not just a single event or once-a-year examination. Key aspects of the process include: aligning, defining, assessing, developing, and measuring.

5 Consider the Team.

Looking at the whole organization, think about what skills/competencies will be needed across all team members to both complement and sharpen each other – now and into the future. When evaluating team members, utilize comprehensive assessment data through “multiple data sources – involving external assessments, past performance, and impact data like 360-degree feedback.

6 Develop for Success.

Minor-league athletes work hard in the hope of earning a call-up to the majors. In businesses and other organizations, employees’ commitment to their individual development plans demonstrates to management their level of dedication in preparing for their next opportunity. Going forward, quarterly reviews are a powerful benchmarking tool to track progress and to gauge commitment and readiness to rise to next opportunity.


It’s never too soon to start developing your talent bench. For more information about LWF’s services around leadership succession planning, please contact us.

Ten Commandments of Great Business Coaching

Ten Commandments for Great Business Coaching | Leadership Worth Following

They’re not carved on stone tablets, but we’ve refined these helpful principles during our 15 years of coaching executives and business leaders.

FEEDBACK & COACHING

1 Earn Permission to Coach

Building a foundation of trust creates a respectful relationship. Start by asking personal and career questions. Share your own story to find common ground; it’s a conversation, not interrogation. People shouldn’t feel under attack receiving coaching. They will only let their guard down if they trust and respect you.

2 Make Sure People Feel Understood

After earning initial permission, strive to keep and deepen it. This requires good listening, which is hard work. Ask open-ended questions; paraphrase and reflect on what you’ve heard; make summary statements. Practice vital nonverbal cues: smile, lean forward, make good eye contact, etc.

3 Be Immediate, Genuine, Concrete & Respectful

Timely and direct communication shows interest and sincerity. Authenticity helps cement bonds of trust. Clarifying questions ensure mutual understanding. Courtesy recognizes others’ worth and capabilities.


SET GOALS & OBJECTIVES

4 Set SMART Goals

Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Relevant. Timely. To whom are the goals relevant? A goal that is relevant to the organization but not the individual might result in compliance without commitment. Such goals are unsustainable.

5 Set Valid Goals

Before committing to a SMART goal, ask how valid it is. Such goals must meet conditions across three areas: Predictability, Methodology and Capability. For example, you need adequate capabilities (resources like money, skills, team members) to overcome barriers and sufficient motivation to persevere.


ACCELERATE DEVELOPMENT

6 Capitalize on 8x Development

Research on personal growth shows the most effective SMART, valid goals are also FAST: Frequently Discussed, Actionable, Specific, and Transparent. When you hold another accountable for these goals, the results are 8x greater than a plan without accountability.

7 Communicate in Whole Messages

Whole messages encompass four elements: Sharing facts, Giving opinions, Explaining feelings, and Soliciting solutions. When you give feedback that first expresses confidence in another’s ability to meet high expectations, the result is 40% more effective.


DRIVE SUSTAINABILITY

8 Stay Engaged and Get Creative

Driving sustainability in business coaching is all about establishing an environment that encourages people to take ownership of their own development. To stay engaged even during failure, seize “coachable moments” to create learning opportunities. You may need to connect coachee with others who are better suited to observe or advise.

9 Wildly Celebrate Growth

The power of praise is amazing, and each person uniquely responds to combinations of the 5 languages of appreciation in the workplace – words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, tangible gifts, and physical touch – outlined in the book by Gary Chapman and Paul White. To demonstrate care in the workplace, you can also give recognition, greater responsibility, increased freedom, or more interesting work.

10 Empower People to “Try Stuff”

A supportive, caring, and open environment will inspire curiosity, experimentation, and self-reflection that leads to personal and organizational growth. Frame your feedback around intention, behavior, and impact. Integrity is more than aligning words and behavior: it’s aligning intentions and impact.


Questions? These 10 commandments of great business coaching are only an overview. Please contact us to learn more about our coaching and leadership development programs and services.

What’s Your Delegation Style? 4 Common Drivers

Delegation Style | Leadership Worth Following

Each of us has unique personality traits that can make delegation easier or harder. Knowing yourself makes it easier to share your strengths while managing your downsides. Here are four common drivers that can affect your delegation approach, with a coaching tip for each. Where do you fit?

1 Authoritative Alex – Tells You What to Do

Your Delegation Strength: It’s easy for you to divvy up responsibilities and be direct with people about your expectations.
Your Delegation Downside: You may overstep your bounds sometimes, and may delegate without first earning buy-in.

Coaching Tip: Check your assumptions related to whom you’re delegating; explain the why and appeal to them; don’t just expect automatic obedience.


2 Autonomous Abby – Likes Doing Her Own Thing

Your Delegation Strength: Empowering others and giving them the freedom to do it their own way comes naturally. You won’t step in and micromanage.
Your Delegation Downside: You may not set people up for success when delegating.

Coaching Tip: Use active listening techniques and check for understanding. Ensure necessary resources exist for your “delegatees” and set regular check-in schedules.


3 Collaborative Chris – Builds a Team for Everything

Your Delegation Strength: It’s easy for you to share information, responsibilities, and power.
Your Delegation Downside: You may over-delegate/over-involve others, which could slow down execution.

Coaching Tip: Become familiar with your peoples’ skillsets. Whenever possible, delegate as much of one complete task/responsibility to one primary owner.


4 Excellent Ellie – Enforces High Standards

Your Delegation Strength: You clearly and explicitly communicate your expectations to others.
Your Delegation Downside: It can be a struggle for you to let go. Sometimes your expectations are unrealistic.

Coaching Tip: Define your “ideal,” “acceptable,” and “unacceptable” standards. Check whether those standards are realistic with peers or other leaders given the specific situations.


 

Whatever your own style, delegate tasks with purpose and in line with your people’s development plans. Don’t just assign responsibilities based on what you know people can do, but provide them with opportunities to develop skills outside their comfort zones.

We developed our DRiV personality assessment to help understand the unique drivers that make each of us “tick” in our workplaces – and our lives. Click here for more information about leveraging the power of the DRiV for yourself, your organization, or your clients.

The Commitment to Lead: Passion for Results

Commitment to Lead - Passion for Results | Leadership Worth Following

Individuals vary in what energizes and motivates them. As leaders, you can engage others and make them want to do well for you by learning to recognize and leverage what motivates members of your team. Communicate what you need from others and get them to commit by ensuring understanding of your directions and goals to facilitate goal attainment. Consider the following to get others to do more than they believe possible:

Focus on Continuous Development.

Help others grow and learn from their mistakes, so they can see how to raise the bar on their performance and delivery.


Review Your Goals and Objectives.

If they were achieved, could the results be sustainable? If sustainability is questionable, identify steps or processes you can implement to ensure targets can be repeatedly met.


Consider Past Messaging.

Reflect on meetings and conversations held with your team. Consider the messages and tone you set for sustainable, continuous improvement. When discussing goals, increase the focus on repeatable excellence: how team members can make an impact and benefit personally. Look for ways to improve your dialogue.


Document Primary Business Processes.

This step often allows you to more easily identify potential efficiencies or improvements. Also, document the process for meeting large goals. Share these success stories with your team and entire organization to help others learn.


Tie Efforts and Performance to Bigger Picture.

Show everyone how their work is influencing the broader organization. Highlight a higher organizational purpose.


Set Stretch Goals.

Strive to deliver more than requested or promised for every project or task. Continuously challenge yourself and others to do more than you think possible or have done before.


Recognize and Celebrate Achievements.

Acknowledge when members of your team exceed expectations. Use this positive reinforcement to help establish a norm of excellence.


Look in Mirror.

This process starts with you. Don’t just deliver upon expectations – think about how you can truly delight your customers, both internal and external. Make this your personal pledge.


Learn More. To learn what you and your team are passionate about, please consider our new DRiV™ personality assessment tool. By evaluating what drives and drains people in their careers, the DRiV can help predict optimal leadership styles, determine effective team composition, and implement more engaging work practices. Click to learn more.

Leadership Development Services. For information about LWF’s full range of services designed to strengthen your organization, teams, and individual employees, please visit our website.

Dale Thompson of LWF on Leadership Podcast

Dale Thompson LWF Podcast

Dale Thompson, Founder and CEO of LWF, was recently featured in the “Lead Without Losing It” podcast. In this 45-minute episode titled “Worthy Leadership”, Dale shares interesting real-life anecdotes with host Jonathan Hoover as they discuss a variety of leadership topics including:

  • The Origins of LWF’s Worthy Leadership model
  • The Importance of Character and Forgiveness for leaders
  • Thoughts on Screening for Character when hiring
  • The Three Phases of LWF’s Coaching Model: Align, Aspire, Transform
  • And advice to leaders for self-coaching