Humility + Iteration = A Leader’s Saving Grace

Being likeable will help you in your job, business, relationships, and life. I interviewed dozens of successful business leaders for my last book, to determine what made them so likable and their companies so successful. All of the concepts are simple, and yet, perhaps in the name of revenues or the bottom line, we often lose sight of the simple things – things that not only make us human, but can actually help us become more successful. Below are the eleven most important principles to integrate to become a better leader:

1. Listening

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway

Listening is the foundation of any good relationship. Great leaders listen to what their customers and prospects want and need, and they listen to the challenges those customers face. They listen to colleagues and are open to new ideas. They listen to shareholders, investors, and competitors. Here’s why the best CEO’s listen more.

2. Storytelling

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” -Robert McAfee Brown

After listening, leaders need to tell great stories in order to sell their products, but more important, in order to sell their ideas. Storytelling is what captivates people and drives them to take action. Whether you’re telling a story to one prospect over lunch, a boardroom full of people, or thousands of people through an online video – storytelling wins customers.

3. Authenticity

“I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.” -Oprah Winfrey

Great leaders are who they say they are, and they have integrity beyond compare. Vulnerability and humility are hallmarks of the authentic leader and create a positive, attractive energy. Customers, employees, and media all want to help an authentic person to succeed. There used to be a divide between one’s public self and private self, but the social internet has blurred that line. Tomorrow’s leaders are transparent about who they are online, merging their personal and professional lives together.

4. Transparency

“As a small businessperson, you have no greater leverage than the truth.” -John Whittier

There is nowhere to hide anymore, and businesspeople who attempt to keep secrets will eventually be exposed. Openness and honesty lead to happier staff and customers and colleagues. More important, transparency makes it a lot easier to sleep at night – unworried about what you said to whom, a happier leader is a more productive one.

5. Team Playing

“Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds.” -SEAL Team Saying

No matter how small your organization, you interact with others every day. Letting others shine, encouraging innovative ideas, practicing humility, and following other rules for working in teams will help you become a more likeable leader. You’ll need a culture of success within your organization, one that includes out-of-the-box thinking.

6. Responsiveness

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” -Charles Swindoll

The best leaders are responsive to their customers, staff, investors, and prospects. Every stakeholder today is a potential viral sparkplug, for better or for worse, and the winning leader is one who recognizes this and insists upon a culture of responsiveness. Whether the communication is email, voice mail, a note or a a tweet, responding shows you care and gives your customers and colleagues a say, allowing them to make a positive impact on the organization.

7. Adaptability

“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” -Ben Franklin

There has never been a faster-changing marketplace than the one we live in today. Leaders must be flexible in managing changing opportunities and challenges and nimble enough to pivot at the right moment. Stubbornness is no longer desirable to most organizations. Instead, humility and the willingness to adapt mark a great leader.

8. Passion

“The only way to do great work is to love the work you do.” -Steve Jobs

Those who love what they do don’t have to work a day in their lives. People who are able to bring passion to their business have a remarkable advantage, as that passion is contagious to customers and colleagues alike. Finding and increasing your passion will absolutely affect your bottom line.

9. Surprise and Delight

“A true leader always keeps an element of surprise up his sleeve, which others cannot grasp but which keeps his public excited and breathless.” -Charles de Gaulle

Most people like surprises in their day-to-day lives. Likeable leaders underpromise and overdeliver, assuring that customers and staff are surprised in a positive way. There are a plethora of ways to surprise without spending extra money – a smile, We all like to be delighted — surprise and delight create incredible word-of-mouth marketing opportunities.

10. Simplicity

“Less isn’t more; just enough is more.” -Milton Glaser

The world is more complex than ever before, and yet what customers often respond to best is simplicity — in design, form, and function. Taking complex projects, challenges, and ideas and distilling them to their simplest components allows customers, staff, and other stakeholders to better understand and buy into your vision. We humans all crave simplicity, and so today’s leader must be focused and deliver simplicity.

11. Gratefulness

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” -Gilbert Chesterton

Likeable leaders are ever grateful for the people who contribute to their opportunities and success. Being appreciative and saying thank you to mentors, customers, colleagues, and other stakeholders keeps leaders humble, appreciated, and well received. It also makes you feel great! Donor’s Choose studied the value of a hand-written thank-you note, and actually found donors were 38% more likely to give a 2nd time if they got a hand-written note!

The Golden Rule: Above all else, treat others as you’d like to be treated

By showing others the same courtesy you expect from them, you will gain more respect from coworkers, customers, and business partners. Holding others in high regard demonstrates your company’s likeability and motivates others to work with you. This seems so simple, as do so many of these principles — and yet many people, too concerned with making money or getting by, fail to truly adopt these key concepts.

Which of these principles are most important to you — what makes you likeable?

Phonetikana – Using visual text to teach Japanese

Building phonetic pronunciation into the letter design of a font. Wow!

 

This is a brilliant way to make a complex character set more manageable to learn. Check it out and see if you can find the Super Hero within:

 

http://johnsonbanks.co.uk/thoughtfortheweek/phonetikana/

Thanks to Ian McLean (DJ Epyon) for sharing this creative approach.

More interesting stuff: http://www.sashaphilosophy.com

Amplify your impact

Leadership Lessons – Simple ways to amplify your impact

The Fortune profile on Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, provides some valuable insights on how to maximize your leadership impact. Brian devised his own simple leadership rules:

The final one – refilling the reservoir – resonated with me. How do you refill your reservoir? Please mention them in comments below!

5-minute Contest: Mentorship and Onboarding

Mentor Me…

Here’s an easy contest to win!

In his article, “Mentoring and On-Boarding: Two Peas in a Pod,” Talent Management’s Frank Kalman makes a compelling case for mentorship as a game-changing onboarding tool. I’m going to take a leap by extending Kalman’s theory, and say that I believe that you (yes, you, dear reader) are an expert in onboarding mentorship. Curious? Read on…

 

You Are an Onboarding Expert

Since you’re reading this post, I’m guessing you’re interested in the topics of mentoring and onboarding (either that, or you’re my mom, who reads all my posts – because that’s what mentors do – invest in their peeps). No doubt you’ve been “onboarded” in an organization before – be it your workplace, your place of worship, or your neighborhood association. And I’m betting that somebody helped you with the ropes when you joined that organization. That mentee experience in itself gives you a certain amount of mentoring mavenship. You know what good (or not good) mentorship feels like.

Let’s now transform this expertise of yours into a reward. It’s time to get you published in the blogosphere!

Contest Guidelines

Take five minutes to participate in this Mini-Mentoring Contest and you could win a featured “Guest Author” spot on the Leadership and Learning Innovation site.  Here’s how:

  1. Take a quick read of Kalman’s brief article, Mentoring and On-Boarding: Two Peas in a Pod.
  2. Answer one or more of the following questions:
    • What role has mentorship played in your own onboarding experiences?
    • What kind of mentorship did/do you provide in helping others to onboard?
    • How can you “pay it forward” for future members of your organization?
  3. Submit your ideas/stories here.
  4. Submission Deadline: Tuesday, July 24th

 ****

Winning Entries

Compelling mini-stories, theories of mentorship, or even 3-word mantras on the secrets of onboarding mentorship will be considered for publication in the next Leadership & Learning Innovation article in this series, “There’s No Ship Like Mentorship.”

Change again? Good grief!

How Change is Like Grief

People experience different emotions when faced with change. Change can be viewed as a grieving process of sorts. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross described five stages of grief in her seminal work, ‘On Death and Dying’ in 1969.

The five stages include:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance (+ Moving On)

Kubler-Ross described the experiences of terminally ill patients and the psychological stages they go through when coming to terms with their condition. Her work on grieving process can be adapted to help us understand that individuals go through these same stages when faced with any big change, including changes at work.

Different Faces – Different Paces

Different people move through the stages at different speeds, and there may be some overlap between the stages. It is important for leaders to recognize this individual process. A person’s history, the organization’s history, the type of change and the consequence of change also impact an individual’s response to change and movement through the stages.

How Can Leaders Help Throughout The Stages?

Shock / Denial

  • Start communicating that there is a change early on. This minimizes the ‘Shock/Denial’ phase, as people will have begun to see that there is a need for change, even if they are unaware of the form that it will take.
  • When the change initiative is announced, give reasons that reduce complacency and highlight a need for change. Communicate in a way that is clear and touches people emotionally, not just with loads of data. Fully communicate the end vision of the change and what your intentions are.
  • Don’t try too hard to sell people on the idea that things are better for them; they are not ready to hear this.

Anger

  • Practice patience and empathy, and don’t try to suppress conflict. Provide a verbal outlet for people to vent their upset feelings. When leaders provide opportunities for grievances and frustrations to be aired constructively, bitterness and frustration can be diminished.
  • Although people will be angry that doesn’t mean that what they say has no value, they may have legitimate concerns that could affect the success of the change initiative.
  • Remember that  most likely, people are not attacking you personally. Remain calm and patient.
  • Often leaders have been made aware of a change initiative long before their teams, so although they may be at later stages (eg, be at “Acceptance/Moving on” while general staff are still at “Shock/Denial”).  Exercise patience.

Bargaining

When people start trying to bargain, ask them to give the new dispensation a chance. A lot of bargaining is done while people are still angry. Once the anger dissipates, so does much of the bargaining.

Acceptance

  • Help people acknowledge that it is the end of an era, support them in their new roles and encourage them to take responsibility. Set goals with them of which they can take ownership.
  • Continue your role as a sounding board for complaints and questions. Ask ‘How do you feel about this?’ to understand individuals’ emotional state.
  • Begin to stress the benefits of the new situation and how it can work for the individual.
  • If new teams were formed, provide help with group dynamics. People are generally less concerned with the tasks they are given than how they fit into a new group.
  • Plan for some early successes for the change initiative and then communicate them loudly. Once people can see that it is working then they will be less skeptical and more positive about the change.
  • Make sure the necessary resources are available for them to succeed, be it equipment or training or just coaching and guidance.

Moving On

Empower individuals to take the ball and run with it. Let them find ways of using the new set up to create stretch goals and encourage them to push performance.

Let employees innovate and take risks within the new set-up. Let them not only see ways of making the new system work in their favor but put those into practice.

For the individuals who really are taking the ball and running with it, reward them and promote them. Use them to show others what is possible. Having a fellow colleague really driving performance forward using the changes is worth far more than managers telling people things are/will be better. Once people can see it working for a colleague they will be far more receptive to the change.

_______________________________________

Your turn:

What “stage” of change are you leading through right now? Add your comments here.