When I first started working in the field of organizational development, my mentors told me three things that I always needed to remember about change: people don’t like it; people don’t understand it; and people won’t like you for trying to implement it. For the most part, I believe that is the case. Why?
A number of years ago, I was asked to coach an individual who had pretty much alienated everyone with whom he worked. When I was asked to work with him, I asked why his rehabilitation was so important. His senior leader indicated that he was extremely competent, but that he was interpersonally challenged.
Exploring the assumptions or stories behind people’s behavior is a fascinating pursuit. Recently a friend told me a wild story about his mother that gave me cause to think about how our stories keep us stuck--from improving and creating the results that we really want.
Recently in my community, a respected professional took his life. His wife and children were heart-broken at the passing of their father. This event caused me to ask myself, “What voices am I listening to?”
Chris Argyris and his colleague Donald Schon introduced the notion that all of us have an internal voice that is constantly editorializing, analyzing, criticizing, and judging what others say and do. These mental exercises lead us to what they called our “undiscussables”, things we think and feel but don’t share.
Nothing can be more frustrating than trying to talk to someone who engages in some form of fake talk. Because there are so many opportunities to talk about what matters most both at home and at work, learning to recognize the communication strategies that don’t yield the desired results is critical to improving the quality of your conversations.
I had an opportunity to speak at a conference late last year. The weather was wonderful, the people were receptive and engaging, and the conference was excellently run and sponsored. Everything went really well until the plane ride home.
At the beginning of a new year, we often begin new projects and set goals for ourselves. Many times our attempts at improvement are not as successful or don’t deliver the results that we expected. When this happens, it is easy to become discouraged.
During the holidays, my youngest children rigged a booby trap in our Christmas tree, so if Santa Claus touched the tree a little bell would sound the alarm. I was really quite amazed at their ingenuity in an attempt to catch the old elf delivering gifts on Christmas Eve. The entire situation made me reflect on the importance of the alarms that are present in our lives. These alarms act as a warning that we are moving or steering off course.
Last year I worked right up to the week before Christmas. I had just finished a week of training, and I was ready to fly back to Utah from Westchester, New York for the holidays. I arrived at the airport early in case any unforeseen mishaps should occur. Sitting in the gate area with numerous people, I realized just how exhausted I was and that I was totally unprepared for the holiday season. I closed my eyes and let my head roll back and waited.
Recently, I was looking for an opportunity to write something about gratitude. Being stuck in an airport and waiting for a flight that had been cancelled gave me the opportunity to interview people and ask them what they were most grateful for. So, I wandered around the gate area, introduced myself, and told people that I wanted to write an article about the Thanksgiving holiday, and I asked if I could ask them one question: “What are you most grateful for?” Everyone stopped to think and then answered. It was a great way to pass the three hours.
During my years as a consultant, I have often had people say to me, “I wish my leader knew …” to which I would encourage the individual to speak up and raise an issue of real concern so things might improve. When I did this, I often got the following responses:
“It won’t make a difference.”
“I don’t want to get in trouble.”
“It will just make them mad.”
Whatever the excuse for not speaking up, I noticed that most people were afraid of the consequences. Perhaps they thought negative things would occur because of the team atmosphere. However, I found that it didn’t...
Many times when I speak at conferences, individuals will find me after a session and request coaching with a difficult situation. These encounters always provide wonderful opportunities for learning and expanding my knowledge of the human condition.
A couple of years ago, a young woman came to me and asked for some assistance in mending her relationship with her sister. She told me how her sister refused to engage with her or talk in any way. I asked if I could ask her some personal questions to help both of us understand the situation. She agreed. I told her to place...
The challenge for leaders is that they are frequently unaware of how their behavior negatively impacts their people's performance. Because of the continuing emphasis on results, many leaders really don’t focus on how they achieve results as long as they obtain the desired results.
During our leadership training, we often ask participants to identify past leadership behaviors they have experienced that have frustrated their efforts and negatively impacted their results. What starts out as an amusing exercise usually turns to quiet introspection as individuals consider how they treat their supporting cast.
We realize that sometimes work simply becomes so hectic that leaders...
In our leadership development training, we like to start out by asking people to list as many characteristics about their former leaders that they both abhorred and adored. This tends to start out as a fun exercise, but takes a more serious turn as people then start to look at themselves and their own leadership skills and behaviors.
Ten Leadership Traits That People Adore
1. Has a clear vision of how people’s work meets the leader’s expectations
2. Provides timely, clear, constructive feedback
3. Expresses appreciation and gives credit where credit is due
4. Actively listens and answers questions
5. Treats others with respect and kindness