From Co-Worker to Boss


Handshake - 20141009 - 2Congratulations!  You have just been promoted to manager in your department or at your company. Or, maybe you have made the decision to start your own company and many of your co-workers have such faith in you that they are joining you in your new venture.

You are about to start one of the biggest challenges of your life. You are moving from co-worker / friend to BOSS!

You remember all those late night phone calls with co-workers, after work drinks or quick conversations during lunch or in the hall about the boss and how each of you could do a better job? They aren’t going to stop. You are just no longer invited to the conversations because the conversation is about YOU.

I have been there and done that and frankly, failed miserably. This is not about what I did right or even wrong but what I would do differently if I had to do this over again.

Conversation - 1First, accept the fact that the conversation is happening and move on. Not every decision you will make will be popular and not every decision will be right. Remember you have information that your team members don’t have and that you are not perfect. You cannot stop them from meeting after work, or at lunch. Let it go.

Use what information you already have from those sessions in which you did participate. What did your co-workers really like about the previous boss? Maybe they always appreciated the fact that birthdays and work anniversaries were special occasions. The boss may have treated everyone to something special after the completion of big projects. Lunch or chair massages or gift cards. Go beyond duplicating, expand.

Can you make changes to what wasn’t liked?

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Communicating as a Leader


transactional-comm-modelI recently spent 2 days in meetings with the North American members of my global team.  There were a lot of presentations.  A lot!  One word that came up over and over again was the word: “Communication”. I have heard many presentations in my career on the importance of communication. But, one guy boiled it down very succinctly.  And I loved the sense of urgency that it conveys.

He said it this way:

  1. What do I know?
  2. Who needs to know it?
  3. Have I told them yet?

I thought that was pretty good. Effective communication is one of the key skills that a leader must possess if they are to be successful. So, let’s break it down.

What do I know? – As a leader, I have access to and am privy to things that the rest of the folks on my team do not have access to and are not privy to in their current roles. So, I must recognize that I have a duty to spread that knowledge when and where it is appropriate to do so.

Who needs to know it? – Not everyone needs to know what I know. And in many cases it would be detrimental to the team for them to know what I know. Personnel and salary information are the easy examples. But it goes well beyond those examples. The ones that need to know specific information are those who are somehow engaged in a project and need the information that you possess.

Have I told them yet? – This indicates that there is time sensitivity or an imperative to share the information when they are the right person to receive the information. So, do not delay. Share the information as quickly as you can because they may be waiting on that information in order to determine how best to proceed.

One to many communicationBut, I think that there may be a little more to the process than those three questions. In fact, I would add three more.

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Evaluating Leadership Talent


Evaluating Leadership Talent - 1From the C-Suite to the first level supervisor, all leaders supervise someone. That is, all leaders are called upon to perform some sort of oversight function. And, in so doing, they need to ensure that their subordinates have the right resources, the opportunities, the capabilities, and the support necessary to have a fighting chance to do a good job.

But how do you measure whether someone is an effective leader when it comes to supervising others? Here are five supervisory skills you can use:

Ability to Analyze Strengths and Weaknesses: Have you had a situation where the leader was faced with a challenge and you were able to observe them close up? What about assigning tasks to subordinates? Consider how effective the leader was in these instances.

Effectiveness at Identifying and Providing Leadership Development for Their Team: Whether the job is highly technical or not, there will most likely be instances where all employees need some training. So consider whether the leader gives everyone an opportunity to participate in training.  Do they just offer training to the chosen few, the high-potentials, or do they offer training opportunities to all who are wanting to learn and grow?

Opportunities to Exercise and Enhance Skills: It is one thing to provide training. It is quite another to

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Developing Followers

Developing Followers - 1In leadership we are seeking to help the people we are leading discover their purpose and potential. Each leader also may have certain goals, objectives and processes that they are supposed to meet and follow-through on, however the ultimate objective of leadership is the development of our followers.

As leaders we need to engage, equip and empower. As leaders, our followers need to know that we care, that we are available to them, that what we offer is to help them and open new doors for them. In an overly-simplistic reductionism I would assert that leadership is about the people and management is about the work. In other words our leadership ought to be for the development of followers (their lives, abilities, skill-set and productivity) but our management ought to focused on company/organization objectives, benchmarks, action-steps and of course the bottom-line.

Follow the LeaderWe need to lead in such a way that our followers know

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Shared Leadership

Sharing - 1It seems to me that the very meaning of leadership is someone that leads. So how could it be possible to share leadership? I am thinking shared leadership is “one too many cooks in the kitchen”. So, is sharing leadership an acceptable model. Could it work?

I don’t know, but let’s talk about it.

The all-knowing Wikipedia says “Shared leadership is leadership that is broadly distributed, such that people within a team and organization lead each other”. I guess what I am thinking is a little closer to home. As I came up with the thoughts that generated the start to this piece, I realized there are lots of things that I discuss with my wife, but leadership has never been one of them. Why not? Aren’t we really sharing the role of leader in our family?

Shared leadership involves maximizing all of you resources in an organization, team, family, group by empowering individuals and giving them an opportunity to take leadership positions in their areas of expertise. With more complex problems, issues and markets increasing the demands on leadership, the job in many cases is simply too large for one individual.

Sharing - 2Sharing leadership isn’t easy, but it’s definitely possible, and in many cases, highly successful. For instance,

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Thursday Thought: Failing Organizations

Failing Organizations - 1Being involved in the realm of leadership coaching and leadership development, I choose to observe things that many do not take notice of.  And there is a constant that is visible to all those who would look closely.

“Failing organizations are usually overmanaged and underled.”

Warren G. Bennis is credited with this quote.  Bennis grew up within a working-class Jewish family in Westwood, New Jersey.  He enlisted in the United States Army in 1943 and would go on to serve as one of the Army’s youngest infantry officers in the European theater of operations.  He served bravely and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.  (I like him already!)

He spent much of his career in the academics and in leading great academic institutions.  He authored or co-authored 30 books.  He may have been the one to coin the phrase “ . . .  is like herding cats.”

Failing Organizations - 2One of his most well-known works, On Becoming a Leader, originally published in 1989, lays the foundation that a leader must be authentic.  He uses words that speak of the need to

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Just What is Coaching Anyway?

Coach DeChellisOne of the great things about being involved in leadership development and coaching is the opportunity to be constantly learning and developing your own skills in these areas. They say that you teach that which you need to learn the most. Although I don’t subscribe to that theory, there is a thread running through it that resonates within me because of the learning that often goes along with the teaching.

If you’re like most of us, you have probably noticed the buzz word “Coaching” being thrown around a lot in the corporate world. I am a leadership and life coach. But what does it actually mean? Sometimes when dealing with abstract concepts it is easier to define it by describing what it is not.

Coaching is not leading. Leadership Voices, LLC is all about leadership and about the many ways that leadership is defined and employed. And great leaders will often provide guidelines and advice on how to succeed in certain areas. Typically they will be seeking to help you reach a certain goal, or they wish to rally you and your colleagues to reach this shared goal. Great leaders will often also be great coaches; however it is still important to understand the differences in the conversations with them.

What is coaching - 2Coaching is not mentoring. If you’ve ever been a coach or have been coached, and the conversation has steered towards advice on technical or job specific concepts, then you aren’t being coached – you are being mentored. Mentoring is defined as, “A situation where a senior or more experienced individual is assigned to act as an advisor, counselor or guide’’ (Business Directory, 2014). Yes, mentoring is crucial in any role, however it is equally as important to understand what mentoring is and why it is being done. Perhaps I will tackle that concept in my next article on this topic that is intimately related.

Coaching is not managing. If your manager provides a coaching session for you, and gives you advice on ways to perform your role in a greater capacity, gives you ideas on how to make your sales quota, or tells you how to achieve KPIs, then you are being managed. And if your manager does this with you frequently and an in a positive way, then you have a great manager. However, a great manager is not necessarily a great coach. It’s not that they are bad at what they are doing – quite the opposite. It’s just that they are doing what they are employed to do – manage their team members and ensure that they deliver on the targets set by their manager.

So, what is coaching?

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Things You Must Do to Train New Young Leaders

Training Young Leaders - 2Training the next generation of leaders in your organization may be the most important thing you do as a leader. We can argue what that single most important thing is. But, I think we can all agree that training the next generation is certainly in the top three!

Here are the things that I feel we need to be doing to keep producing new leaders.  This list is not exhaustive.  But I firmly believe that if we take these seven to heart and begin to employ them in our relationships with young leaders then great things will happen.

  1. Play to the Strength of Young Leaders – These young leaders have immediately identifiable talents, skills and abilities. Play to them and allow the young leader to experience success early and often.
  2. Challenge Young Leaders – Yes, they have talents, skills and abilities already. But do not let them rest on those and only play to their strengths. Make them “lean in” to the uncomfortable and try something new or something old that they have never tried before.
  3. Work on a Young Leader’s Character as Much or More than Their Skills – Culture says the result is all that matters. That is false. How we achieve results is also important. Help young leaders develop good work habits early in their career. Character matters. When times of adversity come to your organization, people will follow the leader that they trust even when they don’t know where the leader is taking them.
  4. Training Young Leaders - 1Train Young Leaders to Focus on Others – Young leaders need to know that personal freedom diminishes the higher we rise in an organization. And as leaders we spend a significant amount of time dealing with the wants, needs and desires of others. Get comfortable with this role.

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Misleading Leadership

When Leaders Make Mistakes - 1

A lady I know works for a major corporation in their acquisition department. Her manager recently retired and the supposed replacement brings the team in for a meeting. In that meeting it is discussed whether he will or will not seek to be the new replacement manager. The answer rendered here was a “NO”.

Upon her return home and while going through her e-mail, she receives one that states the manager who had just told her he was not going to seek the position had in fact just been awarded the position. Ok, most of you are like me. You will put out your best efforts for someone you trust. Trust from a manager is not something that comes “with the territory”, but is something that is essential not only to the success of the company but the manager as well. The real truth is…Speak a lie once and all your truth becomes questionable.

Leadership and Integrity - 1Trust on all levels whether in a relationship or workplace setting, when violated sets the stage for many hard days at work or home, to say the least. The worst feeling in the world is to know you were used and lied to by someone you trusted. How in the world can anyone think that starting off a relationship with a lie is in the best interest of anyone?

Let’s talk “man to man” here for just a bit. What hurts the most…is a lie that draws a smile or the truth that draws a tear! Hurting people with the truth is better than killing them with a lie.

Misleading Leadership - 1Think about your family for a moment. How would you look in their eyes if all you did was lie to them? Let’s put things in the proper perspective. Misleading someone is NOT a lie when what you are passing along is accurate to the best of your understanding, only to discover that those who based their actions on your statements were mislead by your statements once you determined that they were not accurate. Lying to someone is an intentional act of deception!

Traveling the way of the world will only lead to destruction. The first person you have to lie to is yourself. From there it is the life of a “poser”. You will always need to convince self that you are something you’re not.

Who do we think we are fooling?

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Leadership Bias

Leadership Bias - 1I’ve recently been conducting internal interviews for a potential project, I have been granted the opportunity to “hand pick” my team. What I have discovered is I may have a bias toward some people in my organization. So I started thinking about how a bias could affect my leadership of this team. My research related to bias uncovered some excellent and surprising information on how to build a greater awareness of one’s biases. These discoveries have also unintentionally helped me develop a more acute awareness of my role as a leader and beyond.

Bias in its basic definition is described in a negative light; but in its purest form doesn’t have to be. It can be equated to discernment (a positive term) because in the end it’s all about that — making a judgment based on certain criteria, and we know the better the judgment, the better the outcome.

When you look at the source of bias and how it is developed, here is where the dilemma surfaces. Whatever bias or preferences you have in any situation has been shaped and cultivated from your collective experiences or conditioning. That conditioning has shaped who you are, crafted your capabilities, molded your beliefs, tested your values all through the filter of your innate wiring — which some call personality. It’s that conditioning that has made you the leader you are today, and in that you could say, your bias (or your conditioning) on some level has been part of your success. Yet, that same collective experience can unknowingly work against you and those you lead. Here in is our quandary.

One of the most interesting areas of professional development is creative and innovative thinking. It’s an area that the Institute for Business Values proclaimed through a survey of 1,500 CEOs as one of the most important leadership qualities. In fact, Richard Florida, states,

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