The Ripple Effect at Work

I’m leading a couple of groups at work that I’m calling “Emerging Leaders”.  I meet with both groups for just 1 hour each week.  Currently, we are working through Jeff Olson’s book, The Slight Edge.  Starting in November, we will be studying John Maxwell’s The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.

For today’s session, we will be discussing the Ripple Effect.  Olson explains this:

“When you create positive improvements in your life, you create positive ripples that spread out all around you, like a pebble of positivity dropped in a pond.”

And the ripple effect can impact others to do the same…

“When you reach out and positively affect one other person through your interactions and words, you create a slight change in that person, who is then more likely to reach out and positively affect someone else.  Simply put, one touches another,                    who touches another, who touches another.”

Are you looking for improvements within your team?  Are you overwhelmed at the thought of moving the entire team to better results, increased improvement?

Take the time to invest in a couple key team members who are positive influencers.  Help them see their potential.  Give them solid tools for success.  Fan their flames.

If they are truly people of influence, the ripple effect can work.  As these key team members demonstrate positive results, work habits, healthy collaboration, this can ripple to others.  As you coach all of your team, encourage growth and development.  Point out the positive and address what needs to improve.  But get your team to work together towards success.  Make this your culture within your department.

The ripple effect can work for you.

wpid-img_20150306_225323.jpg

 

What Kind of Leader Do They Want? by Jim Johnson

leadership qualities

As you may know, I’m working on a certificate in Executive Leadership from Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.  In a recent lecture, Dr. Mike Crant shared the findings of a survey conducted by Kouze & Posner (“The Leadership Challenge”).  The survey was seeking to discover what 20,000 people thought were the characteristics of leaders they admired. In other words, if they could create their own leader, what would they be like?  Here’s what the survey uncovered:

1. HONESTY

18,000 respondents said they wanted honesty in their leader.  It was really important to them that they could trust their leader and that he/she had integrity.  Crant says that this is good news for leaders.  Why?  A person can control this.  We can choose to be honesty and trustworthy.  “The extent to which you are viewed as an honest person who manages with ethics and integrity strongly influences how people perceive you.”

2.  FORWARD-THINKING

People want to follow leaders who have a vision for where they are leading the team/organization.  There is an agenda (and it is communicated!).  Forward-thinking leaders have initiative and ideas for improvement – they are out to make something greater.

3.  INSPIRATION

People want their leaders to have passion and be positive.  It’s true!  Energy and enthusiasm are contagious.  You’ve heard the saying “speed of the leader, speed of the team”.  Followers will copy the attitude and actions of their leader (like it or not).  Leaders are role models.  Just be sure, leader, that you are positively modeling positive attitudes and actions.

4.  COMPETENCE

Dr. Crant says that followers want to trust leaders’ judgment and technical skills to make good decisions.  A leader has to “know their stuff”.

5.  FAIR-MINDED

49% of those surveyed stated that they wanted their leaders to be fair.  Fair treatment increases motivation.  On the flip side, Dr. Crant states that unfair treatment leads to people to do undesirable things.

6.  SUPPORTIVE

People want their leaders to be focused on them.  Who wouldn’t want a leader who has the attitude of putting his/her followers in a position to succeed?  This type of leader worksto remove hurdles for his/her team.

Dr. Crant summarizes this lesson by stating that leaders will build credibility by keeping these desirable characteristics in mind.  But note this:  the survey used in this study did not measure the effectiveness of a leader.  It only focused on traits that were admired by followers.

So, how you do think you stand up to these characteristics?  More importantly, how would your team evaluate you in this?  

Smart Tribe Leadership

I’ve just begun reading Christine Comaford’s book, Smart Tribes (Portfolio/Penguin, 2013).  Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter. This is a timely book for me personally and professionally. 

the “American workforce where 71% of workers are emotionally disengaged and simply working for the money, we know it’s essential to fix our state of so-called leadership…True leadership inspires people with vision.  Vision pulls people not only to take action but also to care about the outcome, to take personal ownership of it, and to bring their ‘A game’ every day. 

The team benefits tremendously too.  As the leader grows in focus, team members feel the leader is increasingly more aware and cares about them more….As the leader’s influence grows, the team members feel the leader is more capable and collaborative.  Over time as results are sustained, team members feel safer and more loyal.”

Sounds great, doesn’t it?!  You can find this book on Amazon at this link.  

 

Click here to learn more about Christine and her work. 

 

Follow Christine on Twitter @comaford

comaford

 

Speaking Potential to the Next Leader by Jim Johnson

20130327-054414.jpg

I’ve been fortunate, blessed to have influential people in my life who have encouraged my growth as a leader. Their influence has come in the form of mentoring and observing them living their lives. One of the things that has “stuck” with me, though, is the way they spoke potential into me.

Chuck Yoke successfully ran a large grocery change in the Spokane, Washington region. He was called home from the war to run his parents’ small grocery in Deer Park, Washington. Chuck quickly grew the business with his smarts and his keen understanding of people. He retired years ago having created a solid brand and customer experience in his stores.

I had the privelege of working for Chuck as a bookkeeper and then as an assistant manager in a new warehouse market in Spokane. One day, Chuck told me, “I’ve watched you work and learn new things. I’m convinced that there’s nothing you can’t do.” That comment has stayed with me for decades now. I remind myself of this when I’ve faced difficult situations. Someone somewhere back in time believed in me – I need to believe in me. Chuck spoke potential into me.

I had the wonderful opportunity to travel with the music organization The Continentals. I went on 10 tours in all over a 10 year period. My last 5 tours, I was the music director on one of many tours that would travel throughout the world. Cam Floria founded this incredible organization that has postively impacted leaders all over the world. As a fledgling music director, Cam would tell us that out on the road we would face some tough situations. He taught us to never give in to the idea “it can’t be done.” He taught us to be flexible. He taught us to make things happen even if everyone around us wants to give up. “There is always a way,” he would tell us time and time again. Cam saw my leadership potential before I did. I haven’t given up. Cam spoke potential into me.

When I was in the 6th grade, my Sunday School teacher was Al Schrock – everybody called him Shorty (he was). Shorty got me hooked on Dr. Pepper. He was a Bible scholar. He and his wife, Lizzy, were both brought up Amish. He helped me buy my first guitar by having me mow his lawn and help him with various building projects. He taught me the lesson that I can get what I want if I’m willing to work hard for it. He encouraged me to follow my passion of music (it has taken me around the world). He taught me the value of thinking and listening and asking questions. He loved his wife and he loved others. This man with only an 8th grade education taught me more than many of my college and master’s degree professors. Shorty spoke potential into me.

So here’s the million dollar question: who are you speaking potential into right now?

  • The new manager you just promoted?
  • A teen at your church?
  • Your children?

Don’t ignore the power of your life poured into someone else.

 

Closing the “Discretionary Effort” Gap

by Julie Winkle Giulioni

Be honest. If you had a gas or water leak, you’d fix it. If an investment was draining your portfolio, you’d sell. So, why are so many smart leaders willing to accept “discretionary effort” as an inevitable feature of — and drain on — business today? Why do we allow employee energy — a precious natural resource — to routinely be wasted?

Condoned sub-optimization

Discretionary effort is the difference between the effort an employee is capable of bringing to a job or task and the effort actually required to just get by. According to Impact Achievement Group research, “The average American employee feels that the effort a person has to give in order to keep his or her paycheck is about 70% of what they feel they could be giving.”

Leadership IQ research indicates that 72% of employees polled admit they aren’t giving their best effort. And, in the same study, 77% of their managers agreed.

There’s clearly a disconnect between what employees are capable of and what many actually do. So organizations respond with a variety of initiatives, programs, and training designed to tap into that differential. Leaders learn and work valiantly to apply strategies and skills to cultivate greater effort from employees. But this approach is limited and time-intensive. As a result, we let about 30% untapped potential go down the drain.

Like draining the ocean with a teaspoon

The work of individual leaders with their employees to tap discretionary effort is admirable, but it’s also a lot like trying to drain the ocean with a teaspoon. Perhaps it’s time to allow a more holistic, systemic approach to replace the time-consuming, ad hoc activities undertaken by busy managers and leaders.

Instead of trying to coax the latent skills and energy out of employees, activate unapplied capability or go through the machinations of engagement, involvement, and interest (in an effort to tap discretionary effort), perhaps it’s time to approach the challenge differently. Time to change what’s required to “just get by” to close the discretionary effort gap.

  • What if we raised expectations to better align with actual capacity?
  • What if excellence was the standard?
  • What if one’s best effort was required to “just get by”?
  • What if we eliminate the whole idea of discretionary effort by making 100% (or darn close to it) the performance goal?

Not as harsh as it sounds.

Expecting people to activate and realize their full effort every day has the potential to drive productivity, innovation, and results beyond most other improvement initiatives — but only when organizations commit to five key priorities.

  1. There must be no discretionary or untapped effort by the organization when it comes to recruiting, hiring, and retention. A team of highly skilled and capable individuals will inspire, support, and drive each other toward higher levels of effort.
  2. Sustained high levels of effort require training, retraining and training again to keep skills sharp. Enable people with the information, knowledge, and capability they need to do their jobs with ease. This is the only way that bringing forth their best 40-60-80 hours each week is sustainable.
  3. Supply the equipment, tools, and resources to support excellence. Failing to do this shows up in study after study as one of the greatest frustrations to employees. And not having what is needed to perform at the highest levels becomes permission to back off. This creates the untapped potential that is discretionary effort.
  4. Organizations that demand optimal effort and performance must be willing to share the rewards. While money may not be the top motivator for most employees, inequity is definitely among the most powerful de-motivators for most of us. Compensation that’s transparent and aligned to the results delivered enables sustained best effort.
  5. Work-life balance. The kind of environment characterized by everyone working at 100% effort is more intense than then normal 9-5 grind and requires the organization to honor and encourage principles of work-life balance. Intense effort demands intense rest. Employees must be able to escape their jobs, turn off their cellphones, and have time to rejuvenate and replenish the energy invested in their work.

Given the performance pressures most organizations experience, the time might just be right to de-emphasize the tactics of involvement and engagement, and begin considering a broader strategy to drive results by taking discretionary effort out of the equation.

What could your organization do with another 30% effort by employees? What other support is required to really close the discretionary effort gap?

 

http://smartblogs.com/leadership/2013/03/14/closing-the-discretionary-effort-gap/

 

Lucky Leaders

20130318-061751.jpg

by Kevin Eikenberry

Oftentimes people look at others who appear to have gained stature or success and explain their results as “luck.” While leaders are rarely as popular or visible as rock or movie stars, more than once I’ve heard people talk about a leaders as being lucky.

They started at the right company . . . went to the right school . . . met the right people . . . the list goes on.

Here’s my perspective: luck is loser language. Explaining things others achieve as luck is a way to justify why you didn’t succeed. The best definition of luck that I’ve ever seen is an acrostic.

Laboring
Under
Correct
Knowledge

If you simply thought about doing that – laboring under correct knowledge – your success as a leader would soar. It implies that becoming (and being) an effective leader is work. It also reminds us to gain the knowledge (and skills) we need from the right sources – practicing the wrong skills or at the wrong time or in the wrong ways won’t lead to success or “luck.”

But I want to take you a bit further today.

Taking the idea of the acrostic to spell the word, here’s how leaders can get lucky.

Listen
Understand more
Create a team
Know you don’t know it all

Let me explain what I mean, and then challenge you with some questions for your application. Because, you want more luck too, don’t you?

Listen. The best leaders are great listeners. They listen to their teams, their peers and their Customers. They listen to learn. They listen to acknowledge. They listen to show respect and build relationships. They know that one of the best ways to influence others is by listening first.

– How effective are you as a listening leader?
– Is your first response to talk, or listen?

Understand more. Leaders realize they have to see the world differently and proactively seek a new viewpoint on things around them. The best leaders actively work to understand the world around them better. This includes understanding human behavior, the marketplace, their industry, their community and a hundred other things. It is hard work to find ways to build these perspectives and gain this understanding.

– What information inputs do you use?
– Who do you talk to?
– Are they giving you the understanding and perspective you need to see the bigger picture for your organization, team and yourself?

Create a team. There may be a rebel without a cause, but there is no leader without a team. No one can do it all themselves, and the best leaders know that. The leaders that you see making a big difference are doing it with a team they have selected, created and nurtured. The best leaders know that their team is the best possible leverage they could have – and that with their team excelling much more can be achieved.

– How much time are you investing in your team?
– What are you doing to help your team succeed?
– Does your time and effort invested correlate with your belief in the value of these activities?

Know you don’t know it all. The best leaders are healthily humble – they know what they don’t know, aren’t ashamed of it, and are ready to learn. The best leaders are constantly learning because they know that successful leading isn’t a destination – you never arrive. This learning mindset not only helps the leader personally, it sends the right message and sets the right example for those they lead.

– Would people call you humble? If not, why not?
– What skills are you intentionally trying to learn now?
– Are you clear on your weaknesses?

Becoming a highly effective leader doesn’t require the “Luck of the Irish” or “counting your lucky stars”. Becoming an effective leader is available to you if you are willing to do the work necessary. Call it “making your luck” if you wish, but I’d rather call it making a bigger difference in the world – which is what Remarkable Leaders do.

It’s your lucky day! Would you like $916.25 of leadership development resources as my gift to you? If so, learn more here: http://asp.remarkable-leadership.com/campaigns/rl-bronze-launch/index.asp

photo credit: billaday via photopin cc