Being righteous is a career saboteur.

Leaders may win the battle but lose the war with their need to be right. Relying on a management style of browbeating employees or being condescending to clients is a lonely fight. Disheartened employees will find a way to invalidate your directives, and your clients will find another resource.  As a leader, it’s your job to learn how to listen to others’ ideas, even if they don’t appear to have merit, and build upon them for solutions. Being righteous is a career saboteur! Creating win-win outcomes is one of your most important jobs.

Where have you won the battle but lost the war in your career?

(c)Jeannette L. Seibly, 2013

Handling Devious Company Foxes

“Foxes are devious—have you given one of them the keys to your office?”

Last Friday I had someone tweet me in response to the above posted caption. The person had given trust to another, and it turned out to be bad news. I’m sure many of you can personally and professionally relate to this experience. I know I can.

Unfortunately, foxes are devious and manipulative creatures. It’s simply their nature. But for people, being devious is often unconscious and based on fear of failure. The key is to become aware of devious people as quickly as possible by listening to your inner leader, or voice. Don’t second-guess yourself based upon your most recent interaction with the person, or your fear of not being strong enough to handle the situation.

Don’t immediately fire someone without conducting proper due diligence, stick your head in the sand hoping it will go away on its own, or jump into a new project, career, or job. These types of knee-jerk reactions will follow you.

First, look within to see what the life lesson is. Second, discuss the situation with your business advisor or executive coach for any additional insights. Now, make your decision and follow through on making the appropriate changes from a place of inner strength and leadership.

How have you successfully handled a fox in your company? How did it impact your career?

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2013

Want to be leader of excellence?

Many business professionals have the goal of becoming leaders of a team, company or industry. Yet, many fall short. They fail to develop the key characteristics so crucial to giving them and their company the competitive “edge factor” required for excellence.

Great leaders inspire.

They are visionaries. Often strong employees and managers focus too narrowly on their own little sphere. They fear political corporate pushback. They hope someone else risks making the changes required for the company to become successful. As a result of this paralysis, they fail to create the opportunities, systems and attitudes necessary to generate a positive ROI. Visionaries, however, are fearless and know that if someone isn’t listening, they can find someone else to support their efforts.

They believe there isn’t a problem that can’t be resolved. Leaders have a mindset that recognizes problems and obstacles, but do not allow themselves to be limited by them. They formulate ideas and know how to enroll others into devising solutions to “make the results happen.”

They are driven to excel. While many companies rely upon incremental steps to achieve goals, great leaders look beyond 100% success. They create goals to achieve what may initially seem impossible. They hire the right business advisors, coaches and trainers to support their people to succeed.

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2012

Not Producing Intended Results?

Leaders often are perplexed when a project or plan is not working. Everyone wants to change the goal. The plan was created to achieve a specific goal; changing the goal is a strange way to produce those intended results! A compelling goal that is well-crafted requires commitment, focused actions and the right people. Too often the success of any team effort is contingent upon the leader’s people, project and profitability skills. Leaders often derail a team by failing to include others, building upon their ideas and staying focused on the ultimate goal of a profitable venture.

Difference of opinions. Many groups crash when they don’t take the time to effectively work through differences of opinions. Team members must be heard; otherwise, they can become trouble-makers! Productive discussions, sometimes seen as confrontational, are required to build better outcomes, uncover overlooked problems and build agreement.  Team leaders and members need to provide on-the-spot training to show others how to use persuasive listening skills to encourage everyone’s contributions.

Doomsday conspiracy. When people on a team are not committed to the plan designed to achieve the goal, or the goal itself, the project will fail, for either reason. A conspiracy of nay-sayers will evolve to rationalize their point of view when leaders don’t listen. Every member of the team has the responsibility for ensuring others’ concerns are addressed.  Many people view change as difficult, not necessary or are fearful of an unknown outcome. As the leader, it’s your role to facilitate actions and conversations to support the intended results, while positively impacting the bottom line, client relationships and a positive workplace.

What’s in it for me? Employees today want to know what’s in it for them. It’s important to provide insight into how their contributions are part of the solution. Start by sharing the situation or problem needing to be resolved, along with the proposed goal and plans to achieve the goal. If it impacts their potential bonuses and/or paychecks, share this in a positive manner. Honesty is key.  If they are not readily agreeable with the goal or project, they may be hearing it for the first time and need additional time to process it. Remember, you’ve been thinking about it for hours, days, or months!

©Jeannette Seibly, 2012

Leadership Maturity

Reprint from 2-11-2011

Honestly ask yourself:

Are you able to discuss others’ opinions without being defensive?

Do you know how to take an idea or concept and make it profitable?

Do you laugh at appropriate jokes without taking it personally, even if it’s about you?

Do you have the ability to see the bigger picture and patience to rephrase it into bite-size pieces so that others can get on the same page?

Can you make decisions that balance both the facts and the human interests?

If you answered yes to these questions, good for you! You are on the right track as a leader. The higher up the corporate ladder we climb the more our effective leadership relies upon interpersonal skills such as these and less about technical expertise.

But often as leaders, we take ourselves too seriously. We are unable to build upon ideas or create a consensus that works. We openly disparage others when they disagree with us. We exclude people with broader experience instead of learning from them, and defend our limited experience in an attempt to feel better about ourselves. This is career limiting behavior for any leader!

Persuasive Listening. To truly listen, we must silence our internal chatterbox and refrain from thinking about our response when others are talking. We will hear similarity in arguments even when it appears we are on a different side of the issue. Good leadership skills – like active listening – provide new solutions that might not be readily apparent.

Be open to differing opinions. We can make better decisions for our companies and organizations when we openly hear what others have to say. But if we become defensive or belittle differing perspectives, we make less than adequate decisions, fail to address the bigger picture or miss details for implementation entirely.  We create a negative reputation for ourselves and our organizations. Disparaging others reflects more negatively upon the speaker than the person being belittled!

Be a team player. Many leaders don’t make good team players. They may play at being part of the group; however, they are more interested in how it applies or affects them personally.  Team has evolved into a broader definition this decade: It’s getting everyone on the same page and moving forward together. It’s not about everyone thinking the same thing or using the same signals or jargon!  It’s about learning to appreciate others and elicit the best in them, as they are. Learn this masterful skill and be seen as a leader to follow!

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2011

Working with an Egocentric Boss

Yikes! Many of us have had to work with self-centered leaders. Some find a way. Unfortunately, many employees or co-workers who are unable to develop a good working relationship simply leave. Others, even though they find their jobs dissatisfying, stay too long. This type of boss can easily thwart the clarity and fulfillment of the company’s goals. S/he can unwittingly create legal ramifications (e.g., bad decisions, perceived discrimination, etc.), but taking a legal approach rarely makes a positive difference for anyone. Being a bad boss or leader isn’t illegal!

We conducted a short survey, and those participants who had experienced working with egocentric bosses told us these leaders had a greater tendency to transfer blame, yet accept the credit for others’ accomplishments! They were perceived to be highly manipulative and made poor decisions that created additional problems for the organization or clients.  Men were described as callous, immature, emotional and bullies, while women were described as back stabbers and “b’s.”

Employees and co-workers say this type of leader avoids talking straight and being honest. S/he doesn’t respect others. They continue voicing opposing points of view or belittling others with differing opinions, even after everyone else moved on. These bosses fail to listen to both sides of an issue before making their decisions. They tend to value secrecy, avoid others and pit people against one other, causing high turnover and mistrust throughout the company.

Here are five ways to help you work with them:

Don’t Label Them. We label their behavior and attitudes (e.g., no integrity, “b,” etc.) and expect them to readily understand our frustration. Many times we do this to vent. Unfortunately, it rarely makes a difference. Instead, use this approach: Describe the issue by telling a story or sharing an example with them, or your mentor. Keep it simple. Be patient and be a parrot (repetition of points).

Give Up False Beliefs. You can’t fix and change them. It’s a fact. There are no magic words or methods to transform these types of bosses, or any boss who is perceived as bad. They have to really, really, really want it, for any change to happen! Acceptance that they are the way they are will reduce your stress and may allow you to more effectively work with them.

Practice Your Presentation. During your preparation, have someone play devil’s advocate. It reduces your anxiety and allows you to be calmer and clear when you make your presentation. As you would do with any boss, good or bad, be sure to provide information in the manner they understand best (e.g., graphs, written descriptions, pictures, stats, etc.). Also, you may need to hire your own coach to either learn how to respectfully yet confidently assert your point (even if you realize it could cost you your job) or how to leave if the situation warrants it.

Provide Meeting Agendas. Be certain to follow that agenda. Take great meeting minutes and distribute within 48 hours of the meeting. When you are required to provide ideas or recommendations during a meeting, ask for others’ input. This is critical if the boss is being dismissive of your contributions. Unfortunately, this type of management style makes it difficult for a team to provide critical input, particularly, if it wasn’t his/her idea first. Often outside guidance on how to fulfill the company’s strategic goals is required to help navigate the company’s growth.

Hire An Outside Coach. It allows the egocentric boss to hear other ideas without losing any sense of power. Make this suggestion to your boss, or have someone who has influence recommend this to him/her. The right coach makes a positive and profound difference. While most bosses have management styles that can be improved, suggestions and coaching to facilitate that improvement needs to come from a respected source, preferably outside the company.

There can be a silver lining:  One Director hated his boss, a VP. Everyone else found the VP difficult to work with too (aka egocentric).  Under the guidance of his coach, the Director had a conversation to clear the air with the VP. He started treating his boss with more respect. Very quickly he became viewed as one of very few people who could work well with this VP. Others began to come to him for guidance. As a result, the President saw this profound difference and offered the Director a lucrative opportunity.

(c)Jeannette Seibly, 2011