I’m told that one quote preachers try to live by is, “If it’s foggy in the pulpit, it’s cloudy in the pew.” In other words, as the leader and communicator, if you’re unclear about any part of your message, it’s a sure bet everyone else is as well.
You don’t have to be a preacher to risk setting unclear expectations. If you’re responsible for performance outcomes of any kind, unclear expectations could be your biggest kryptonite. In fact, if the expectations you set are unclear, you force members of your team to work as much as three times as hard.
Have you ever received the good fortune of being promoted to the new leader of your team, only to find that life got complicated and edgy the moment you started? All of a sudden, your peers knew you as “boss” and not just their buddy. There’s a vast difference between the two.
What did you do in that situation? What should you do? Many leaders of former peers struggle at first. Some even go so far as to request a demotion in order to return to the way things were. There has to be a better way.
If you find yourself leading former peers, here are some steps you can take.
One of the most distasteful activities leaders face is giving negative feedback. The reason? When done well, it can still ruffle feathers. When done poorly, it’s a disaster. No one likes engaging in activities that often aren’t appreciated.
Giving great feedback isn’t easy. It’s tricky, it’s not much fun and to top it off, none of us were born knowing how to give great feedback. We have to learn how over time – often the hard way.
If you’ve struggled with giving feedback before, here are some tricks to get you pointed in the right direction quickly.
There’s incredible power in language. Words don’t merely convey ideas, they can change the course of history.
The words you use as a leader matter too. Here are some simple but powerful phrases that set great leaders apart from the rest.
Is complexity leaving your organization behind?
That’s a question we considered at a workshop I attended recently. Author Mark Miller and a team of facilitators walked a large group through the content of his new book Chess Not Checkers. The boardgame imagery? It’s symbolic for what happens as organizations grow. In the early stages of most small organizations or teams, the rules are simplistic and team members may play interchangeable roles much like the game pieces in a checkers game. But as growth occurs, complexity kicks in. Roles require specialists to address additional complications. The playing field starts to resemble a game of chess, rather than checkers. If we’re not careful, we’ll fall behind.
“I’ve got a guy.”
That was one of the key messages of a sales training event I visited recently. The new sales consultants were supposed to realize they didn’t need to know everything about the services they were providing – they had plenty of other “experts” to support various parts of the deal. It’s a lot easier to sell when you don’t have to know everything yourself.
Which leads me to ask the question: whose “guy” (or gal) are you? And do they know it?
Here’s why it matters:
If you’ve been responsible for delivering business results for any length of time, you’ve probably hit a wall once or twice with people. Someone’s feelings got hurt, another manager is difficult to work with, company politics create unseen landmines, some colleagues disagrees with you and a couple may be out to get you. As often as not, we may be the problem. Additionally, we humans are the ones causing the accidents, forgetting key dates or deliverables, creating ambiguity, making mistakes and communicating poorly. Getting results are tough enough as it is, before we introduce people into the mix!
Automation has added enormous business efficiency over the years and will continue. But it’s important to keep in mind that whatever business we’re in, we’re ultimately in the people business. Since we can’t eliminate the human element (besides, would we really want to?), we’ll have to figure out how to capitalize on it.
I’m happy to announce that last week I posted my first ebook Trusted Leadership Advisor: Accelerating the Leadership Journey of Others.
You don’t have to be special to be a leader and you don’t have to be an expert to help other leaders succeed. You can start right now, right where you are.
Trusted Leadership Advisor is a compilation of some of my previous posts on this topic. In the ebook, I show you how to think about your role as a trusted leadership advisor, what to say and how to get started. Take a look – and if you find it helpful, please share it.
I’d also appreciate your feedback. This is my first ebook and I want to know if the format, structure and ideas prove to be helpful for you. You can leave me a comment below or contact me directly.
There’s so much work to do – let’s work together!
What if I told you you don’t need to have a solution for every single problem that comes your way in order to be a competent and mature leader? Well that’s exactly what I’m about to propose. Hopefully it’s as refreshing to you as it is to me. And the best part about it is that it can dramatically improve your leadership influence as well. The alternative to responding with advice? Asking great questions.
Feedback is everywhere. We get feedback from our bosses in our performance reviews. We ask our customers for their feedback on our service. We collect engagement feedback from our employees. We send a work project around the team for peer feedback before submitting our deliverables.
In all of these cases, the difference between good feedback and poor feedback can easily be the difference between success and failure. The implications can affect our organization’s market share, our revenues, our project quality or our ability to be promoted.
Great feedback is crucial. But it’s not always easy to come by. So how do we get the feedback we need – either individually or corporately? Let’s take a closer look at seven feedback tips.
When was the last time your face was the unfamiliar one? You may have gotten a new job or joined a new team. Maybe you moved to a new area, joined a new network or gave a presentation to a new group.
How did it go?
If you had anything to say, share or contribute, chances are at some point you found yourself wondering, “how can I make myself credible to these people?”
The interesting thing about credibility is that it can never been attained for oneself. It can only be conveyed by others. You can only ever be as credible and others decide you are.
So what can you and I do? Quite a bit, actually. Here’s a sample of the ways I’ve noticed people gain credibility with others.
“I don’t like to micro manage,” my friend lamented. “But even when I set clear expectations and deadlines, I find myself having to guide the entire process or else the ball gets dropped. Is that an employee issue or a leadership issue?”
It’s hard enough to want to delegate in the first place. Many leaders lack trust, are insecure or are control freaks. But once you get past those barriers, what happens when your followers can’t pull their weight? Let’s talk about a few ways managers can guide their projects so that everyone can contribute.