The Buck Stops Here!

I ended the last post by emphasizing how ineffective barking orders and cracking the whip is for a leader who needs to get long term engagement (and results) from their team, and I also referenced how that can often look like an easy approach to someone who hasn’t held leadership responsibility or someone who isn’t considering the impact it will have moving forward. As leaders, we need to consider the future as much as we need to take care of what’s in front of us right now. If we choose to bark orders, crack the whip, blame our team when things go poorly, and take all the credit when things are great, leader isn’t likely a word that will be used to describe us and we probably won’t have any of those strong alliances I’ve referenced previously.

One of my good friends owns a growing company locally and has a sign on his desk that reads “The Buck Stops Here!” In many cases, that could be interpreted as him saying he’s in charge and...

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Effective Communication Won’t Happen Without This

In order to become really effective with that idea of Alliance Feedback that I referenced as I closed the last post, and form authentic alliances (relationships) with the team members we’re responsible for leading, we need to develop another essential quality of leadership; we need to become intentional about how we listen.

As he describes more around the idea of Alliance Feedback, Jeff Henderson suggests that “we take the time to get to know the person and their aspirations, hopes, and personal standards.” If someone in a leadership role isn’t willing to invest time and energy into doing this, which can often only be done by really listening to what their team members have to say in various situations, it’s unlikely that the relationship will ever be strong enough to form alliances.

Additionally, leaders are nearly always responsible for moving the organization forward. If we’re leading but not willing to listen enough to develop alliances, not...

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The Single Most Important Ingredient

I truly believe that one of the most essential qualities of leadership is serving the team we’re leading. Unfortunately, the idea of serving those team members is often mistaken for catering to those team members, which doesn’t serve anyone!

As we worked through that quality of service in the last post, I closed by sharing that some of the most effective servant leaders I’ve ever known weren’t willing to accept mediocre performance; they certainly certainly weren’t ones who catered to each passing whim any of the team members came up with. In fact, the leaders I’m picturing as I share this had some of the highest expectations for their team of anyone I’ve ever been around. And because they led by providing a consistent example, their teams delivered on those expectations!

Here’s where I need to stress a critical point… Those expectations weren’t met simply because the leader demanded that level of performance. Those...

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Essential Qualities of Leadership

Not long after writing what I believe to be one of the most foundational leadership books of all time, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell put out a companion book to that called The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. His thought process was that while there are indeed leadership laws we can each apply to lead our teams more effectively, there are certain qualities we need to have and/or develop internally in order to get the best possible results as we apply those laws! While I won’t be going into depth on much of what John shared, with the exception of a few quotes that help drive some points home, I will suggest you grab a copy of that book or give it a listen on Audible. It’s powerful!

So what are some of the most essential qualities of leadership? Before answering that question, let me challenge you to consider that by thinking about the best leaders you’ve had a chance to interact with personally. What specific things did they do on a...

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Special Attention to ALL the Details

In Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry says “People who manage relationships well are able to see the benefit of connecting with many different people, even those they are not fond of. Solid relationships are something that should be sought and cherished.”

While I’ve only been aggressively studying emotional intelligence and William Marston’s work on The Model of Human Behavior for the last six years or so, I’ve intuitively understood the value solid relationships have in achieving results. I often share that I’ve never really felt like I had any real natural talent in a specific area. But realizing that communication skills could be developed and that building better relationships played a big role in that, coupled with what I have always believed to be a strong work ethic, has helped me in more ways that I could begin to hash out here. And that’s definitely not something that’s exclusive to me!

With all that in mind,...

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The Difference in Recognition and Appreciation

In the last post, we looked at a few things that will stand out in the behaviors of the more DRIVEN folks when their emotions are running full speed ahead. We also looked at what we may want to consider doing, at least when it’s within our control, in order to ease some of the tension in the situation and help those folks operate in a state they actually enjoy. I wrapped up with a reference to recognizing the tremendous amount of effort they put into nearly everything they touch. That fills their tank, but it doesn’t necessarily fill everyone’s tank…

The next two primary styles have a much heavier focus on the people they’re interacting with than the specific task at hand. We all cherish genuine recognition, but the INSPIRING and SUPPORTIVE behavioral styles would much rather know they’re valued as individuals than just for what they’re accomplishing!

Since the INSPIRING folks, typically making up around 30% of the population, enjoy being...

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Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

In Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry defines the last component of emotional intelligence that we looked at, relationship management, as “your ability to use your awareness of your own emotions and those of others to manage interactions successfully.” As I’ve suggested several times up to this point, this is often fairly intuitive for most of us. But what about the times where it’s not as obvious? What if there were a framework we could apply that would make this simpler in nearly every situation?

The awareness Bradberry refers to can make a huge difference in communicating effectively and developing strong relationships. This matters so much in workplace scenarios that Cindy and I built an entire lesson into our Emerging Leader Development course to provide participants with tools they can use to do this more effectively right away. When we’re able to tailor that course and deliver it in person for organizations, we offer the option to build...

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Strong Relationships Build Strong Teams

Once we understand the framework for accurately picking up on the emotions of the person we’re interacting with, by recognizing and understanding their behaviors, we can begin honing the fourth component of emotional intelligence - relationship development.

Let’s be honest, building strong relationships requires quite a bit of intentional effort! That said, I can’t think of a single area of my life where the energy I invested into creating a solid relationship with someone - be that personally, professionally, or a combination of the two - hasn’t ended up yielding far more value than I ever expected.

Consider the best relationships in your life… Did they just happen on their own or was there a good bit of work involved? Most definitely! Were there ever any bumps in the road along the way? I’m sure there was. Who are the people in your life that you have the most loyalty to? I’m guessing it’s the folks you have the strongest...

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Understanding the World Around Us

In unpacking the first two components of emotional intelligence, self-awareness and self-management, I referenced the research William Marston did almost 100 years ago as he prepared to write The Emotions of Normal People. Before we dive into the third component, I want you to really think about the complexity involved with reading someone’s emotions. Heck, it’s not always all that easy to keep a firm grip on our own! With that in mind, what was Marston focusing on as he conducted that research?

Nearly twenty-five years ago, during the first training session I ever sat through on a new process called “behavior-based safety” that was being rolled out in the manufacturing facility where I worked, I learned the importance of focusing on behaviors rather than attitudes or emotions. We can OBSERVE behaviors; we can’t always see emotions and attitudes unless someone is exhibiting outwardly through their behaviors!

Having shared that quick history lesson,...

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The WHY Helps Us Take Action

Many of us intuitively recognize where we’re strong and where we have blind spots. Experience can serve as an amazing teacher IF we’re willing to analyze it and we’re willing to take action based on what we learn from analyzing it. The challenge someone who’s as impatient as I tend to be can run into when relying on experience alone for mastering a new skill is that it can take a really long time to have all the experiences we need to build a solid foundation for making great decisions. Even then, just knowing WHAT happened without having a clear understanding of WHY it happened can limit the effectiveness of those decisions.

I recently had a conversation with a client where they explained a situation with one of their employees who had made similar mistakes a few times in a row when completing the same task. While the mistakes weren’t exactly the same, the client felt like the second one should not have happened since they had pointed out the first...

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