Saturday, November 8, 2014

Humility - The Counterintuitive Behavior in Leadership

Curated Post: Steve Farber | A Radical Approach to Becoming a Great Leader
Each and every one of us has the opportunity to be a leader at different times of our lives, whether it's a leader in our business, our home or our community. The challenge for many of us is that we don't have the fortitude to step up to the plate to become the type of leader that people trust. This true story below is an inspiration to anybody ready to make real changes in their life.
As a regional manager at a major brokerage firm, Michael had been working on his own leadership skills for several years, but despite his efforts, his retail branch region had been consistently ranked last or second to last in his company's employee opinion survey, and in this rare company where surveys are taken seriously - the results are published and ranked - this was bad news for Michael's career. He was losing his credibility as a manager. Then he had the epiphany.
Even though the surveys specifically reflected the views of front-line branch employees whose lives were affected by their immediate supervisors, Michael assumed that he was the problem, not the supervisors. Just allowing himself that realization was a risky endeavor: suddenly, responsibility rested squarely on Michael's already sore shoulders, the Blame Game was no longer an option, and he launched himself irrevocably into do-or-die mode. Then he cranked up the risk factor one more notch.
He gathered his management team together, stood up in front of the conference room and said, "I'm screwing up; the numbers show it, so I want you to tell me what I'm doing wrong and what I need to do to improve."
"I'm going to leave the room," he went on, "and I'd like you to get very specific and write down your ideas on flip-chart paper. When I come back, we'll talk through each item."
And he walked out.
A half-hour later he came back and knocked on the door. "We're not done yet," they said.
Finally, after ninety minutes, they let him in. All the walls were covered in flip-chart paper: list after list of suggestions for his personal improvement as a human being. He kept his balance, took a deep breath and proceeded to:
Accept What You Hear (And Show It)
Michael knew that his reaction in that moment would make or break the whole exercise, as well as his personal credibility. So he took a radical approach and responded authentically.
"I'm really disappointed," he said, "in myself. I had no idea there'd be so much."
He didn't defend, justify, or make excuses. All he did was ask some questions to make sure he fully understood each item, and they talked together for the next couple of hours. Imagine the intestinal fortitude that Michael needed to keep that conversation going for that long. "And another thing, boss..." was said more than once, I'm sure.
And then, at the end of the day, with rolls of flip chart paper tucked under his arms and a pounding sensation behind his eyes, Michael looked at his team and said two words straight from the heart:
"Thank you."
That night and the next couple of days, Michael told me, were the most difficult of his entire career. He was devastated and overwhelmed by the severity of the feedback and the immense challenge to follow through. He recovered from the initial shock, however, and went on to:
Do Something About It!
Nobody expected Michael to start at the top of list one, item one and start fixing them all. But they saw him try. He proved through his own actions that the session hadn't been a consultant-assigned exercise that he had been forced into tolerating.
The next round of surveys ranked Michael's organization second from the top in the entire company, with jumps of eighty to ninety percent in some measures. That's a radical leap no matter how you look at it, but the funny thing is, the improvement had relatively little to do with Michael's follow-up actions. It had everything to do with his team.
Source: Steve Farber is the president of Extreme Leadership, Incorporated - an organization devoted to the cultivation and development of Extreme Leaders in the business community. His book, The Radical Leap: A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership is a recipient of Fast Company magazine's Readers' Choice Award. | To find out more about his book go to:

This blog is based on this book. In it are actionable ideas on being a better manager: The 1% Edge - The Workbook - Power Strategies to Increase Your Management Effectiveness

Monday, October 20, 2014

Are You Passive or Purposed With Your Time?

The subject of time management is one that I just can't get enough of not only because doing it expertly is essential to the level of success in my business, but it's also one of those things that is not mastered all in one shot, but the mastery of it is an ever evolving experience.

With that in mind, here's another time management insight for your consideration. Greater success in time management cannot be achieved until you are aware of how you function in situations by answering this question "Are you passive or purposed?"

Here's an observsation I've made related to myself and others and I'll use the context of work for this example. When I'm sitting at my desk or enter into my day, the days when I see clearly that my schedule is packed, I don't have a moment to spare, I tend to act and feel more purposed.

In fact the use of time has been purposed and when that occurs I act, feel, and interact with people differently through-out the day. I tend to be more assertive, time aware with each interaction, and even faster in the execution of certain tasks.

On the other hand, when my schedule is lighter - meaning less fixed items present, I tend to act more casual, work slower, when someone calls I may not screen it as closely,'s what's key, I allow someone else to take the lead in how my time will be used. In essence I am passive in that context.

Now we all need days that are low key, less intense and pressurized, but for many the passive approach is the norm or workstyle by which they function. In order to manage time effectively being passive or non-purposed as a practice will only lead to not getting things done, being over worked, being taken advantage of, critical deadlines being missed, more stressd... and much much more.

A key time management tip therefore is to be clear on the answer to this question, "Am I more purposed or passive in how I conduct my day?" This question can be used at home and at work.
Knowing the answer will give you clarity on your time management approach aka "I may not have one."

On a final note, I do believe there are days where we can and should have a more passive approach; it allows for spontaneity and a bit of refueling while still getting some things done. The key is to be aware enough to make the choice.

If you need a time management tune-up - then you'll want to get this resource: Organizational Strategies for the Overwhelmed - how to manage your time, space, & priorities, to work smart, get results & be happy -  Kindle - The Book - Nook - Audio Book -  The Seminar

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Your Job Search Begins While You're Still Employed

Ok I know that sounds like an odd statement. And, I bet some reading this have no plans anytime soon to begin a job search - not in this economy anyway. Yet, it is under these conditions that the 21st century job search is being transformed.

As I assist people with career transitions as well as provide support to close friends, it’s clear it’s a whole new ball game. It’s also clear that in some cases creative strategies need to be employed.

One job search component is evident - having a professional network in place, puts you miles ahead of those who don’t. For those I know who have gained employment (or gotten interviews), in many cases it’s been because someone referred them.

Additionally, interviews are gotten because they are extremely pro-active and persevering; they make phone calls, they keep following up, and they spend the time (hours) going through the painful, tedious process of plugging in their information on-line. My conclusion – a job search today takes a tremendous amount of character and confidence. The resounding comments, “ Looking for a job is a full time job and it’s tough.” Yep…it is.

And that brings me back to the title of this article. As your self-appointed career coach for the next few moments, please take to heart the following advice: Please don’t wait until you are laid off to start working on your employment prospects – build the foundation and nurture the infrastructure now!

Here’s a few tips to get you started:
1. Build and nurture a professional network of people who know you, trust you, and can honestly comment on the work you do.

2. Social Networking/Media is here to stay so use it. As I travel across the country conducting professional development seminars, there is a mix of attitudes about the social media presence in our lives. Some feel it’s turned into a down right invasion. No matter, accept the fact that it is here to stay and can serve you well, should you be in a job search. There are affinity groups, professional organizations, etc…that make it easier to connect, which will more effectively serve #1.

3. At minimum have a LinkedIn presence. My nephew in college already has one. If you choose no other, choose this as it is the original on-line professional connection source.

4. Please know some folks have found jobs via Twitter…so learn about it.

5. If you use Facebook, stay in the know about privacy settings and be discerning about what you put on your page. Believe it – recruiters comb the web for information. (See my post on "on line reputation.)

6. Digital resumes are helpful. What’s a digital resume you say? It’s a web site of sorts that can be used to present you in ways a flat one-dimensional resume cannot. Without giving away proprietary information, you can describe your work experience, projects, and successes.

7. Keep track of not only what you do, but also what you’ve accomplished. Figure out how to give numbers and percentages to what you do where possible.

8. Keep developing professionally – go to workshops and seminars even if your company doesn’t pay for them. Last week I heard a great story from a woman in my seminar that got promoted because she did that with her own time and money.

9. Develop an “enhanced professional presence.” You can volunteer to speak at an event, do a lunch and learn, comment or write for blogs, or contribute to news articles. I subscribe to HARO (Help a Reporter Out). Reporters are always looking for people to contribute who are involved in real ways (meaning outside the guru, consultant genre).

You’ll notice all of these tips are building a foundation and are practices of active career management. Those who are passive will be farther behind as they ramp up a job search.
The final tip?...make active career management a permanent practice in your professional life.

This blog is based on this book. In it are actionable ideas on being a better manager: The 1% Edge - The Workbook - Power Strategies to Increase Your Management Effectiveness