Issue 159 - June 2016
The Leader Letter
Terence Mitchell, professor of management, organization, and psychology at the University of Washington Business School, along with doctoral student William Felps "analyzed about two dozen published studies that focused on how teams and groups of employees interact, and specifically how having bad teammates can destroy a good team." They concluded:
Some toxic team members can't be coached and developed into a more positive place. They may be a bad fit for the team or organization.
However, our research shows that the team leader has a major impact on the energy, engagement, and attitudes of the people reporting to him or her. The leader's coaching skills is a key factor. Four short, fun, and entertaining videos clips on key approaches to coaching effectiveness are highlighted in this issue.
You'll also find vital points for growing leaders at all levels. You can use our 12 point assessment for a quick reflection on the impact your leadership, coaching, or culture is having on the people you lead. And building strengths that play to your passions -- and those you lead -- is proving to be a critical factor in increasing performance.
Of course, knowing what we need to do and doing it is one of leadership -- and life's -- biggest challenges. We all know far more than we do. We often don't need more information but perhaps more inspiration to move us to application. You'll find a link to a webinar on execution and thought on knowing versus doing.
I agree with author and executive coach, Marshall Goldsmith, "as I have grown older, I am no longer interested in just helping leaders learn -- I am interested in helping leaders do."
A central theme in Growing the Distance: Timeless Principles for Personal, Career, and Family Success, is dealing with change through continuous growth and development. As we've been revising our workshops -- especially our core program, Leading @ the Speed of Change, that theme is resonating even stronger.
We all need to be leaders regardless of our formal title or role:
Click on Growing the Distance if you'd like to learn how this title grew, read the Introduction and Chapter One, and learn more about our current offer of a special discounted rate with free shipping.
Every organization is ultimately only as good as its people. Today, more than ever, organizations look to everyone, at all levels, to think and act like leaders. The key is to first create inner self-leadership, which ultimately will determine how people perform in their roles and help move the organization forward.
Grow for it!
A few months ago I delivered a webinar on Essential Building Blocks for Leadership, Coaching, and Culture Development (click on the title if you want to view it now). The 45 minute webinar (plus 15 minutes of Q & A) was divided into three main sections:
Our Essential Building Blocks webinar is a broad overview of my 40 years of study and writing books, delivering keynotes & workshops, and facilitating leadership team retreats condensed into 45 minutes.
We developed a 12 point self-assessment across these three key areas. Many webinar participants completed the survey. Here are a few results and my observations:
How's your team or organization doing? Click on Assess Your Leadership, Coaching, and Culture Status to find out.
Research from our database of 250,000 multi-rater feedback surveys shows huge differences in results produced by leaders rated as having the highest coaching skills. These include 8 times higher levels of employee engagement, over 3 times more willingness to "go the extra mile," half as many team members thinking about quitting, and dramatically higher levels of customer service.
Getting into the Olympic spirit, Zenger Folkman has just released four short videos. Each one humorously illustrates a key coaching concept. Click on the video title to watch each three minute clip:
See why Zenger Folkman has been winning top video awards. Look, laugh, and learn as you get into the Olympic spirit!
These videos are based on Zenger Folkman's newly redesigned development process: The Extraordinary Coach. I'll be delivering this powerful one-day workshop in a rare public session (most are in-house) on June 23 in Toronto. Join us and power up your coaching skills to go for the gold!
The day before (June 22) I'll be running The Extraordinary Leader development session built around our strengths-based 360.
Click here for details and registration on both sessions.
The "dark side" of fixing weaknesses is very alluring.
Recently I facilitated our Extraordinary Leader workshop with a group of senior leaders. This was a highly experienced team who were strongly motivated to improve their organization and their own effectiveness. All participants had been through 360 feedback assessments before. Many reported feeling beat up by past feedback reports and some experienced an erosion of confidence.
Through reviewing pre/post on building strengths versus fixing weaknesses, discussing a case study, and their experiences with the best and worst leaders they've known, we developed a strong acknowledgement that fixing weaknesses can help a leader move from poor leadership to at or even above average. But the absence of weaknesses doesn't move a leader from good to great.
By looking for the overlap of strengths, organizational need (both based on feedback from their raters), and personal passion, most participants found their leadership sweet spot. However, when choosing what to focus their personal development plans on strengthening, a few leaders were still drawn to the dark side of fixing weaker areas. In a few one-on-one discussions I asked each leader which of the two or three areas he or she was considering they loved to do. Each response was immediate and heartfelt; they knew exactly which one he or she enjoyed most. And there's the answer -- if you're not addressing a major problem that needs fixing, work on what you love to do.
One reason our data shows that building leadership strengths is 2 – 3 times more effective than fixing weaknesses is the energizing role passion plays in sustaining our development efforts. Zenger Folkman surveyed participants to see how they reported on the quality, progress, time invested, and results of their personal development plan. The Powerful Impact of Building Strengths chart shows a striking response to the statement "I have created an excellent development plan that will guide my efforts to improve." Just 13% of leaders focused on fixing weaknesses agreed with that statement versus 63% of leaders who were building strengths.
As the German philosopher, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel once observed, "nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion."
"Belling the Cat," a tale from the ancient Greek fabulist Aesop, points to the timeless dilemma of knowing versus doing. The story describes a counsel of mice trying to figure out how to deal with "the sly and treacherous manner" that the cat sneaks up on mice and kills them. A young mouse proposed putting a bell on the cat so all mice could hear it approach. Everyone applauded this solution (imagine the sound of little mouse paws clapping). Then came the big question; "who is to bell the cat."
Many individual behavior changes or implementation plans aren't as impossible as mice belling the cat. But as the German writer and statesman, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, pointed out, "knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do."
Knowing what we need to do, no matter how brilliant the flashes of insight or the urgency to improve, does not mean we are able to make the change. We know the way to higher profits is to increase revenues while decreasing costs, the way to decrease errors is to do it right the first time, or the cure for insomnia is to get more sleep. But none of those insights show us how to do it or build the habits that sustain the change.
Execution and follow through is the key to how extraordinary leaders get things done. We need to convert leadership theory to action and strategy to implementation. It's transforming why to how and converting what to when.
Execution is the only way for a leader, team, or organization to succeed. But there's a world of difference between knowing and doing. Understanding the road to be travelled is not the journey, it's the preparation. The ultimate key to results isn't what we know about increasing our effectiveness, but what we're doing about it?
Zenger Folkman research shows that execution is an essential and distinguishing characteristic of top performing leaders. Last month, Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman provided a 35 minute complimentary webinar reporting on their latest research showing:
Click on Execution – The KEY to How Leaders Get Things Done to review the archived webinar.
For the past few decades I've followed the ground-breaking work of Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania. Based on his extensive research, articles and books, and his 1998 term as elected president of The American Psychological Association he's now considered the founder of the burgeoning new field of positive psychology. This is defined as "the science of happiness, well-being, and what makes life worth living."
A central approach in positive psychology is building on our strengths instead of focusing on our weaknesses, gaps, and what's not going well. My posts on "Positive Psychology, Strengths, and Leadership" and "Strengths, Positivity, and Halo Effects" provides more background on Seligman's work, this new field of study, and my deep and abiding interest in these approaches.
I am really looking forward to attending and presenting at the 3rd Canadian Conference on Positive Psychology in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario on June 15 to 17. I am presenting "A Strengths-Based Leadership Development Approach That's 2 – 3 Times More Effective." Much of what I'll cover was in my recent webinar Ground Breaking New Approaches to Leadership and Coaching Development.
This conference has over 100 positive psychology experts in five main streams. These include research, education and schools, counselling and psychotherapy, coaching, and organizational consulting/HR. Keynote speakers include:
Go to Exhilarate 2016: Learn it! Live it! for more information. I hope to see you there!
This section summarizes last month's LinkedIn Updates and Twitter Tweets about online articles or blog posts that I've flagged as worth reading. These are usually posted on weekends when I am doing much of my reading for research, learning, or leisure. You can follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JimClemmer
My original tweet commenting on the article follows each title and descriptor from the original source:
Surprising results comparing countries, gender, and leadership levels. Assess your own leadership boldness.
A fun illustration of a key approach in coaching effectiveness. It's easy to climb the ladder and get badly hurt.
Based on 66,000 people rating a series of leadership behaviors and their satisfaction, engagement, commitment, and extra effort.
See the results from assessments of over 75,000 leaders and take the survey to assess your own level of leadership boldness.
The items in each month's issue of The Leader Letter are first published in my twice weekly blog during the previous month.
If you read each blog post (or issue of The Leader Letter) as it's published over twelve months you'll have read the equivalent of a leadership book. And you'll pick up a few practical leadership tips that help you use time more strategically and tame your E-Beast!
I am always delighted to hear from readers of The Leader Letter with feedback, reflections, suggestions, or differing points of view. Nobody is ever identified in The Leader Letter without their permission. I am also happy to explore customized, in-house adaptations of any of my material for your team or organization. Drop me an e-mail at Jim.Clemmer@ ClemmerGroup.com or connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook, or my blog!
May the Force (of strengths) be with you!
In this Issue:
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©2016 Jim Clemmer and The CLEMMER Group