growth

How To Effectively Deal With Anxiety In 15 Minutes or Less

One of the top struggles for leaders is learning how to manage their anxiety. As a leader, you carry an incredible amount of responsibility. You have people counting on you. You want to continue to grow and excel, and you want to have an impact. Given the complexity of the obstacles before a leader, their anxiety can often go through the roof.  However, they know that they are being watched carefully, by those who report to them, peers, and those they themselves are accountable to.  Consequently, many try to stuff their anxiety. They “act as if” everything is okay, finding the silver lining in whatever it is they are going through, and waiting till no one is around to allow themselves to fully feel the anxiety that is just under the surface.

Studies have shown that some amount of anxiety can actually help performance.  However, many times anxiety can get so strong that it works against us.  We are not able to generate solutions. We may find ourselves unable to fall asleep, or we wake up in the middle of the night and are unable to fall back asleep. Or we may start stress-eating, or stress-fasting.  Perhaps we are not fully present in meetings, or are not hearing our direct reports when they really need us.  Anxiety can take different guises.

I want to offer a simple, tangible tool to decrease your anxiety in the workplace (and in your personal life!).

Do you want to deal effectively with your anxiety in 15 minutes or less?

Download this Excel spreadsheet and I will walk you through a way to do just that. Afterwards, I will give you an example of how I used it to overcome one of my worst recurring anxieties.

Looking at the worksheet, follow me along. You need to be detailed in columns B-F.  The more details, the more you should feel your anxiety being impacted as you go from column to column.

Column A: The date when you are doing this exercise for the anxiety you are currently facing (no details here :-)

Column B: Write in detail the absolute worst case scenario that could arise from the situation that is currently making you anxious.  Describe the factors that make this the worst case scenario, and write what you would feel if that scenario arose.  Do not hold back on details in this column.  You know you are doing a great job if your anxiety picks up, or you can clearly recognize that your anxiety would be horribly higher if that worst case scenario were to happen.  Once you feel that, immediately go to column C.

Column C: Write what good options can come if the absolute worst case scenario happened.  If you did a good job in column B, it should be hard to think of more than one good thing that could come from that worst case scenario.  This is where you have to break down the question by relating it to specific parts of life.  In other words, what good could come....

  • Vocationally
  • Relationally
  • Emotionally
  • Mentally
  • Financially
  • Spiritually
  • Physically
  • For each person directly impacted from the scenario
  • For loved ones
  • For your team
  • For your overall organization
  • Etc.

You know you can stop thinking of options when the edge has been taken off the anxiety and you are starting to feel hope.  You probably still feel anxious, but it has gone down a couple of notches and you can begin to see a way forward.  Then go to Column D.

Column D: Describe the actual scenario you find yourself in.  Once again, you want to state the facts of what you feel along with what you would feel about the facts.  You need to be detailed here.  Really describe it until you can taste it.

Column E: Generate options for what good things can come from Column D.  Since you have found options through the worst case scenario, you should see options for column E.  Literally, you can copy and paste many of the ones from Column C, but here you will get more specific about what you’re actually facing.  You need to keep generating options until you feel hope and your anxiety has gone down tremendously.

My Personal Success Story

Here is a template for what this exercise could look like.  It is a bit embarrassing for me to share this, but it proves how well this tool works.

I used to write business plans for a living and, with the exception of two years of my life, I have always run my own business.  I went to business school and studied business cycles.  So you would think that I would not get overly anxious about the down side of the business cycle in a calendar year.

Yet, despite all of the evidence that shows how predictable the down time is, and even more, the clear evidence that things pick up at about the same time every year, I used to get really anxious during the downtime of the business cycle.

My wife would always look at me and say, “It was like this last year” or “This year is not as bad as last year." And sure enough, things would start to turn around. But year after year, I lived with anxiety.

So if you have the What Good Could Come From This? spreadsheet up, let me walk you through what has put a permanent stop to this recurring anxiety.

A few years ago, I wrote the date in Column A.

Then in Column B, I wrote out the absolute worst case scenario that could come from the downtime in the business cycle.  Here is what I wrote:

During a down business cycle, not just 20-25% of clients drop, but all drop.  As much as I try to generate income for my family, we wind up losing all of our assets, including our house.  Then my wife, my kids, and my in-laws are forced to live under a bridge.  I would see them suffering and feel guilty, ashamed, desperate, isolated.  I would believe it was all my fault that this scenario happened and I would feel crushed by it.

When I got to Column C, I could hardly think of one good thing that could come from the worst case scenario.  So I focused on what good could come in different parts of my life.  Here is what I saw, and I wrote:

Any time I have gone through a career change, a better option has emerged. It could happen again in just the same way. My wife and I have always been tight during hard times - this one could be the same.  I could get more time with my kids.  My in-laws are incredibly gracious and resourceful.  They would help brainstorm ideas. I would be walking a lot more so I would be in better shape.  If I lost all my assets, then anything that gets added would be better financially.  I would have more time to think and get creative.  I could even get positive about this situation if I saw good things come.  It would teach me to be mentally resilient.  I could see people at my church help us in unexpected ways.  God and I could get tighter and I could see Him act in unexpected ways.  Those on my team could find other opportunities.  They are gifted and resourceful as well.  Or they would brainstorm options with me and our company could emerge better than ever.

At that point, I started to feel a little better and had a little hope, so I jumped to Column D.  I described the actual scenario as follows:

There are only two times of the year when the business cycle is lower.  Just as summer is starting there is a brief 10-15% drop. It lasts a couple of weeks and then picks up again, especially with more training gigs.  Then, a week before Thanksgiving through the second or third week in January, there is a 20-25% drop.  Although I get really anxious during this time, all that happens is that we eat out less and we dip into savings a little.  But I get really anxious and believe that it is going to dry up.  I get clouded, don't make the most of the time I have, stay down despite others noting that we experience this drop every year. The holidays help but I am still somewhat distracted.

Then when I got to Column E, it was much easier to generate options for what good could come from the actual scenario.  Here is what I wrote:

  • Vocationally - I have time to do what I don't get enough time to do (i.e. business development, train the team, get ahead on blogs, get trained on the things that will advance clients, take a longer vacation, etc.)
  • Relationally - I can take advantage of the situation and spend more time with my wife and kids.  It would be great to hang more with friends.
  • Emotionally - I can rest up more and do a better job at processing my own emotions.
  • Physically - I can work out more--go after more FitBit Workweek Hustles and beat top competitors.
  • Financially - I can review how my company and family spend money, and eliminate where we are wasting money or find better, more economical ways to accomplish what we want to accomplish.
  • Mentally - I can dream more, focus on gratitude more, do more brain games, even get unplugged more.
  • Spiritually - I can up the times I spend connecting to God in ways that have been meaningful.  My wife and I can take an extra weekend away right in the middle of the holiday rushes.  The kids and I can do more fun things.  The team and I could also do a fun holiday party.  Our company can volunteer and help others.

By the time I was done, I felt great.

I’ve found that in order to experience what I did, you have to give Columns B-E lots of detail, especially in the emotional description of what you could feel (if the worst case scenario happened) or what you are currently feeling (from the actual case scenario).  Then you have to generate lots of options in Column E.

You are going to feel so much hope if you do a good job of generating options.  Capture that hope in Column F.  So I wrote:

I feel hopeful and alive.  I feel free.

The very next year, not only did I not have fear going into the biggest drop in the cycle, but I was looking forward to all the things I would do that would move the needle forward.

Clients who have used this tool share that after they have used it a few times, when they face the next anxious moment and open up the spreadsheet, in the process of scrolling down to the next free row, they don’t even have to write anything because the reminder of how they felt hope when using this tool has led them to feel hope about the current situation.

Moreover, clients have shared that eventually, they begin to feel hope when they just see the spreadsheet in their Finder window.

What’s been freaky to hear is that some clients who were diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder and were being medicated for it, have had their meds reduced, and a few have even gotten off anxiety meds completely.

Genuinely hoping this tool pays as many dividends for you as it has for them and for me.

Chew On This:

  • What would remind you to use the What Good Could Come From This tool the next time you feel anxious?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company that equips leaders to develop in-demand high performing teams.

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

 

What To Do When Joining a Pre-Existing Team as the New Leader

You just got promoted, or maybe you just took a leadership position in a new company. Regardless, you will probably find yourself leading a pre-existing team. Team members know each other well, but you are the new one on the team.

Here are a few tips that clients have found to be universal principles of success for this scenario.

Building Rapport and Establishing Trust

1. Get to know your team well.

The faster you can build a connection with each member of the team, the more you will understand each other. You will build trust. You and your team members will discover how to leverage each other's strengths and contain one another's weaknesses.  More than that, you will be building a foundation for bringing the team to the next level.

2. Learn who the influencers in the company are.

In whatever organization you are in, there are certain people who have tremendous influence. Many times it is the leaders, but often you may discover that there is an administrative assistant who seems to hold a lot of influence.  Don't forget that each team has a member who is not the leader, but who wields a lot of sway over the others on the team.  As early as you can, you want to be actively building relationships with those people. Influencers can help you bust through obstacles. They can catalyze other relationships for you. Influencers also help with that next promotion. But even more than that, they will help you master the role you are in. Get to know who they are and build relationships with them.

3. Go through Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism, for yourself, your team, and if possible, with your boss.

One of the first things you will need to understand is what is the most important part of your role, your team’s role, and your boss’ role. This book will help you do just that.  The more you, your team, and your boss are focused on the most important part of your roles, the more you all will move to the next level.

4. Find a base hit that is at the core of your role, your team’s role, or your boss’ role and fulfill it within 90 days.

Many start in a new role and just want to observe.  Others start, but they want to make a big grand slam home run right away.

In most cases, I've discovered that the clients who deliver base hits are the ones who win over their stakeholders and fellow associates.

Look for something that’s important in your role, your team’s overall role, or your boss’ role, where a base hit can be created.

If you can consistently deliver base hits, you will achieve remarkable results for you and your team.

Be sure to have one completed within the first 90 days so that it influences the perception people have of you.

5. Observe, observe, observe.

You will probably need to become a student for awhile, learning from your team members, peers, and boss how to accomplish meaningful actions.

You need to get the lay of the land first. If you try to make big bold moves right away, you may not realize until it’s too late that the big bold move was a colossal mistake because it did not fit the way the team or department works.

People tend to struggle with change. They want to build trust with you before things become massively different. Give them a chance to do that, and you will see how much more buy-in you will get.

Congratulations on landing the new position. You have the competence to pull off what you were hired to do. Now it is time to apply some principles and emotional intelligence to build relationships and set a foundation for major impact.

Enjoy the ride.

Chew On This:

  • What can you do to know your team better?

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

What I Learned About Being A Great Direct Report From An 18-Year-Old Intern

On Thursday of last week, I said goodbye to the youngest intern RCBA has ever had. She only worked with us for about six weeks, but she made such an impact that it was really hard to see her leave.

Megan is sharp, mega-talented, and has a keen strategic mind, but beyond all of that competence, she knows how to connect to people’s hearts, really commit, and fight hard to do what she does with excellence and love.

Let me give you an example. As my team is growing, I wanted to learn more about how I can lead them better. (Yes, I see the irony of the leadership coach wanting more insight on how to lead his own team.)

So I asked Megan to do some research on best practices, hoping to learn new ways to improve my leadership, which I could then pass on to clients.  Not only did she do precisely what I asked her to do, but without my asking her, she tailored her research to my personality type (ENFJ) and, more specifically, to what she had already learned about me.

When I read what she wrote, I was speechless.

I then gave her more responsibilities, which she mastered just as deftly. Then, with clients’ permission, she listened in on meetings and helped improve our trainings.

She has all the marks of someone who will go far in anything she decides to do.

If I take what I learned from her and add what I've learned from the other super talented team members we have at RCBA, I can see there are traits or practices that could lead to excelling in any role in virtually any company.

7 Traits of an Excellent Direct Report

1. Give your heart to what you do.

Are you just existing? Do you come alive when you are working? Is work just a paycheck? What if it were possible for you to come alive at work if you gave yourself to it?

I don't mean you should make work the number one priority in your life. That's not it. I mean fully commit to doing whatever is necessary to produce excellence during the hours that you are there. Invest, make sacrifices, find ways to make it fun, get to know those you work with, leverage their strengths, etc.

If you are in a toxic environment or doing something that really isn't you, then consider making a change. We spend so much time at work we might as well be fully engaged while we’re there. You have the power to increase your own engagement: just commit, invest, and sacrifice for it.

2. Set boundaries.

Megan and I could really enable each other to reach workaholic levels, but one thing Michael and Haley taught me was to set limits according to priorities.

For example, my wife and kids are a higher priority than work.  Intentionally blocking off time during the week, rarely working on Saturday and not working at all on Sundays has helped to cherish and grow my relationships with them. Having non-negotiable blocks for my wife and kids has helped me to make the most of my time at work and has helped me to enjoy work more.

3. Improve core competencies.

If you want to have a high impact at work, look for the most important thing which your role, your boss’ role and/or your team’s role requires, and start there. You will feel a ton of gratitude come your way.

4. Know yourself and your team well.

Megan is a self-professed Myers-Briggs geek. She leverages her ENTJ strengths and adapts to other personality types to foster greater communication and reduce the chance of conflict.

Ask each team member:

  • How to work successfully with them
  • How to energize them
  • What frustrates them
  • What stresses them out
  • What they are looking to improve about themselves
  • What they look like when they are chronically stressed, and how to best help them if they are there. (Often it is providing them with something that energizes them.)

Be sure to give them your answers to the bullet points above. We created templates for each personality type that you can use. You can find them here.

5. Manage up well.

Your boss does some things really well.  Other things could use improvement.

Megan was great at being able to see what I needed help with, and to fill in that gap.  She also gave some tips in passing that were very helpful.

If your boss wants to grow, that would be helpful.

6. Go beyond what you were asked to do.

If you always look for a way you can go beyond what you were asked to do, this will show your boss that you want to exceed expectations.  Don’t be surprised if your reviews and bonuses reflect that.

Make sure you complete what you were asked to do and then, in a separate part, show how you went beyond.

7. Risk sharing how things can be improved.

Ask how and when you can share some things that you believe could be improved.  Make sure that you are asking from a place of humility, not know-it-all arrogance.

Once you are given permission, say I’ve noticed X.  I wonder if Y could be a way to improve X.

Then let the brainstorming begin.

Becoming a valued resource for your boss, team, or company starts by committing not just your head but your heart to the role.  Looking for ways to go beyond sets you up for promotion and for leaving a lasting legacy in your role.

Chew On This:

  • What would help you to commit both your head and your heart to what you do?

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company.

 

How To Make The Most Of The Workshop You Attend

I'm on a flight to Los Angeles to deliver a workshop on Myers-Briggs and Emotional Intelligence. I'm thinking back to the training I did to become certified in the EQi-2.0 and how I wish I had taken more notes and spent more time reviewing.

Even though I love EQ work and use it extensively with clients, there are nuances of the EQi-2.0 assessment that I don't remember (already put a coaching meeting with an EQ trainer on my calendar).  This has got me thinking about how many of us attend workshops throughout the year, but don’t retain as much from them as we wish we could. According to Forbes, attendants of a lecture retain only about 50% of what they learn after two weeks.

So many helpful nuggets are given in a workshop that I wish I had a system to retain them all and then implement them well.  If you are still reading this blog, you probably can relate.  Here are some things I have found helpful throughout my years of attending and giving workshops:

1) Before you go into the workshop, perform brain dump.

Brain dumping is a way to get clear and be fully present. I wrote out 7 tips on how to be fully present when you have a lot on your mind in a previous blog. One exercise is called the “Brain Dump.”

This exercise involves listing on a piece of paper all of the things that are on your mind at the present moment. Think not just about work, but also about home, family, hobbies, entertainment, etc. Take 10 minutes to write them out.

Next to each item, quickly jot down the ideal outcome you want for that item. Then write down the next action step that needs to be taken to achieve that outcome.

This exercise clears your mind and creates space for more information.

2) Take really really clear notes.

I like taking electronic notes during workshops I attend. However, if I'm not careful, as the days, weeks and months go by, I may not fully understand what I wrote down when the time comes to review them.  Make sure you set aside some time to review your notes right away, as close to the end of the workshop as you can. The breaks during a workshop are even more ideal.

3) If the facilitator says anything that is unclear, ask them to clarify.

Don't be afraid to ask the facilitator to clear up a point they made. You will be doing yourself, your fellow participants, and the facilitator a favor. This is often how I get the best refinements to the workshops I conduct.

4) If the facilitator has not done so, see if you can whittle down the workshop to three main points. 

A client, after previewing slides, asked me to come up with five "pithy" phrases that the participants could use as a review slide. That advice alone moved my workshops to the next level. It turned out that senior leaders especially valued that slide.

5) See how you can immediately implement at least three core parts of the workshop - personalize it.

To make the most of the time you invested in participating in a workshop, look for ways you can immediately use what you've learned.

The idea is to start using what you've learned before you forget it.

See number 7 for one of my favorite ways.

6) Set up a few review times.

Typically, when I deliver a workshop, I like to have a group coaching call a month after the workshop, and another one three months after the workshop. This gives participants a chance to implement and develop questions to better utilize what they've learned.

If that feature is not offered to you and your team, request it, because it will dramatically increase retention and use.

If you're met with resistance, do it on your own. Don't feel shy about emailing the workshop facilitator with your brief questions. We'd love to be at further service.

7) Teach others what you've learned.

Before the beginning of the workshop, have in mind that you are going to teach others what you've learned.

This will help you be present, make sure that your notes are clear, and that you yourself understand everything.

Generously share with others what you've learned.  In the process, you will learn and implement much more than you would have otherwise.

Imagine the impact on your team if they got the nuggets that have helped you.

There is a reason you are participating in the workshops you're attending. You’ve invested time and money and energy into this opportunity. Make the most of it for yourself and for your team as you move your team towards higher performance.

Chew On This:

  • What difference would it have made to you if you had been able to remember more of the workshops you attended?
  • What steps can you take to make the most out of future workshops?

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company.

The Mark of a Master Strategist

Master strategists are a rare breed of people.  They are able to play high level chess and make it look as simple as playing checkers. A few years ago, I started working with a vice president whose role was to head up a Latin American department for a Fortune 1000 company.  As we brainstormed different initiatives, he more than showed himself to be a master strategist.

As his coach, my job was to provide an environment where he could explore various options for resolving the issues he wanted to resolve.  As he answered questions, I learned so much about strategizing that I felt like I should pay him for letting me sit in on his “thinking time.”

If you want to become a master strategist, there are certain key disciplines to consider developing.  If you read last week’s blog, you will know that the insights on this blog and the next come from a team of very talented directors in a well known global company.

While being tactical is a practical, hands-on skill, strategy is a thinking skill.  One that can be grown and developed.

Certain personality types, especially INTJ’s, have a strong predisposition towards becoming master strategists, but the VP that I mentioned in the first paragraph, along with many other ISTJ or ESTJ VPs I’ve worked with, have grown from being master tacticians to developing a real knack for being strategic.

Here are the marks of a master strategist:

1. Master strategists free up time & then fiercely protect that time.

Strategists must have room in their schedule and mind to think.  They look for ways to block off even 15 mins just to think.

Once they free up time, they protect it, just like they would an important meeting. Time and space to brainstorm are not seen as a waste but as an essential part of success.

Without taking this first step seriously, they wouldn’t be able to move to upper levels of strategy.

2. They spend time with those who are also master strategists and those that are higher up than them.

Nothing beats being around the masters. They look around and find those who really get strategy and become a regular feature on their calendar. They ask if they can sit in on times when they are brainstorming strategies with their team and soak it all in. A master strategist surrounds himself with like-minded people.

3. They think long term.

Master strategists typically think long-term--3, 5 and even 10 years ahead. They consider how the events of today are going to impact that time frame. They think about other industry events and where they will be in the long term. In essence, they are futuristic, taking into account the long-term impact of their decisions.

4. They stay close to the company’s broader vision.

Master strategists pay close attention to the company’s broader vision and align strategies with it.  This is a great way to gain buy-in throughout the organization.

5. They cultivate different points of view.

Master strategists develop relationships with different departments so that they can get a feel for what they care about, how they think about it, the concerns and issues they have, what they consider to be successes and where they sense the future is headed.

In doing so, they are able to spot trends (see below) and think big picture.

6. They step back & spot trends.

As they get to know different departments, master strategists start to see certain themes that are consistent across the company. They see how others in the company think through things. They see things the way that higher-ups see them. But they also get a feel for what is going on in the front lines, which often the higher-ups don’t get to see as quickly as they might.

They also look at the data and see what the company wants to invest in over the long haul.

7. They plan ahead to take advantage of those trends.

Once they see the trends, they ask themselves how, in their specific role, they can take advantage of those trends.

They manage risks by first filling the facts box and sharing those facts with key executives; then, they can write a summary page so the executives know what they will be getting.

They must define what issues they are facing and be thorough with the process.

They need a robust fact base to make sure that they are solving for a real need.

Any alternatives should be fought about.

Strategic thinking is about asking the right questions: How will we win?  What is at stake?  How do you define success? What would the different departments say about this plan?

Master strategists think of all the angles so they can anticipate every question and plan for it with their team. They also make sure they are clear on what they need to execute their plan.

8. They foresee obstacles and plan ahead to overcome those obstacles.

Master strategists also consider the obstacles that are going to come.  Once they see the trends, they ask themselves what obstacles will naturally appear.

They take the list and decide how their team can best tackle those obstacles before they even arise.

9. They get validation and buy-in, paying close attention to feedback.

They consider who needs to buy in, thinking in terms of what the stakeholders value and how their plan fits in with those values.

As they implement their plan, they pay attention to the feedback they receive and make tweaks. They are aware of when it may be best to abandon the plan.

10. They anticipate the informational needs of their boss and boss’s boss.

Thinking in terms of what their boss and boss’ boss want to know to make decisions at their level, they may gain greater insights in how to think strategically.

Becoming a master strategist is easier for some than for others.  However, everyone can improve their strategic skills by recognizing the marks of a master stragetist.

 

Chew On This:

  • How can you become a more skilled strategist?
  • Who on your team embodies these strengths?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of a company that equips leaders to develop in-demand high-performing-teams.

The Marks of a Master Tactician

I am coaching a group of directors who all want to become vice presidents in their companies. These men and women are sharp, gifted individuals. Already they are making a significant impact where they are. They are master tacticians, skilled at executing the strategic initiatives set by those over them.

There used to be a day when vice presidents could be either tactical or strategic. However, those days are gone. More and more companies are wanting to see that prospective VP’s can do both.

The group I'm coaching already shows great signs of being able to flex their strategic muscles, but they've been in roles that are heavily tactical.

Moreover, they are so busy implementing what they are tasked to do that they have little room for what it takes to practice the art of strategy.

In this multi-part blog series we are going to discuss:

  • The Marks of a Master Tactician
  • The Marks of a Master Strategist
  • Combining a Strategic Mindset With Your Tactical Base

As a leader, you may already be identifying in your mind who on your team is more strategic and who is more tactical.

To advance excellence in your team, all members of the team need to understand and implement principles of both--what it takes to be a Master Tactician and what it takes to be a Master Strategist.

The higher up they move in the company, the more they will be working through others, so they will need a strategic mindset to succeed.

However, those who are closest to the front lines, who require a tactical mindset, will also need to understand what you as the leader need in order to make effective decisions for the good of all.

For example, suppose your frontline had a basic training on how to spot trends not yet revealed by the data you are seeing. Imagine what a difference that would make to you and to the company.

If a team were to take this basic training, what might they draw out about what it means to be tactical? Basically, it is “work done below the shoulders.”

Those who are strong at being tactical are strong at executing. So tactical people are operational.

Tactical people’s line of vision is focused on the shorter term.  Sometimes it means being focused in the moment.  As such, they can be reactionary, but must definitely be adaptable and flexible.

Let’s look at what the work life of a master tactician entails:

1. They achieve the strategy for their small part of the business.

While they may have some awareness of the overall strategy for the company, tacticians usually don’t have overall details, but they do have details for their part of the business.

Once they receive the strategy, master tacticians know who on their team needs to do what in order to accomplish the goals.  They put together solid plans and work the plan. This gives them a great deal of control in the day-to-day operations, as long as higher ups trust them to execute.

2. They are resource management oriented.

Master tacticians directly use the resources of the company to accomplish the strategy.  As such, masterful ones are wise with how they allocate the resources, and they are accountable for how they use them.

3. They are project-oriented.

Tacticians go from project to project, often working a few different ones at the same time.  They get the benefit of seeing the fruit of their labors in shorter term bursts than the strategists do.  This can be incredibly rewarding.

4. They are fast-moving and always busy.

There is never a break.  There is always a ton of work. There are always decisions to be made as to what gets dropped. There is a constant need to filter all that they have through Julie Morgenstern’s 4 D’s - Delegate, Delete, Delay, and Diminish.

Many have at least double digit unread messages -- if not triple.  Their work is such that they can’t stop.  There are always more meetings, or stakeholder calls to make, in addition to the projects they are on.

However, those who are master tacticians thrive in that type of fast-paced environment.  If they are in the right tactical role, they are never bored.  There is always something to do.

5. Typically, the only time they think about the business is when they are on vacation, or about to fall asleep.

As you can infer from above, the thought of being able to stop and really think about the business seems like a luxury to them.  Many say that the only time they do is when they are on vacation or about to fall asleep.

For some personality types, that could be a gift.  Yes, it could be frustrating not to have more of a say in the strategy, but those who love to execute thrive here.

It is easy to see why some people would never want to leave the tactical realm.  If they are wired for it, they can get into their comfort zone and never leave.

However, as I said earlier, the days are now here that in order to move to higher levels in a company, there has to be a strategic mindset as well as a tactical one.

Chew On This:

  • Who on your team is more tactically oriented?
  • Who is more strategic?
  • Who seems to balance both really well?
  • Who are you thinking of promoting? :-)

 

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of a company that equips leaders to develop the teams that everyone wants to work for. *This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

How to Ensure People on Your Team are Heard

Have you ever witnessed an argument, where one person is saying X but the other person is hearing something completely different?  Where the first person makes repeated attempts to clarify, but the second person still hears something completely different? Have you ever wondered why the second person is not hearing the first person?

One reason is that the second person has an entrenched belief.  Once we believe something, we filter everything through it.  The more intense our emotions are, the more we hear what we want to hear, regardless of what the other person is saying.

When this happens in a boardroom, it can be quite costly and embarrassing for the one who is not hearing.  But if you are a witness to such an argument, here are a few things you can do that can help them to hear:

1. Get the parties' agreement to help resolve the conflict.

First, ask the parties who are arguing if you could jump in to help resolve the conflict. You want to work in collaboration with them, which requires their consent. Then,

2. Slow things down.

Shift to a calm tone.  It helps the ones who are arguing to calm down.  If there is anyone else in the room, ask them to leave.

3. Normalize what is happening.

Look for a way to minimize embarrassment for the one who is not listening.  You can say something like, “When things get heated, it can be really hard for us to hear one another.  It can happen to any of us.” Do not place blame on the non-listener; instead, meet him where he is at.

4. Ask the one who is not hearing, “What do you hear the other person saying?”

Ask the the first person to refrain from responding or interrupting.  Then turn to the one struggling to hear and ask them, “What do you hear the other person saying?”

When they respond, don’t judge or condemn them, regardless of what they may say.

Instead, ask them if you could share what you are hearing the other person say.  It’s helpful to get their buy-in, but then share what you heard and ask them if you are off.

Then, ask them again what they heard the person saying.  Hopefully, they hear it more clearly now.

But a quicker resolution is possible.

5. Ask both, “What is the one message you want the other to hear?”

Start with the one who was not hearing.  Ask them to state the one message they want the other person to hear.

Ask the first person, the one who was saying X, to repeat what they just heard.

Then ask the second person, the one who was struggling to hear, to repeat it back.

At this point, you can move to resolve the conflict by asking them to align with what the other wants them to hear. Where they had been arguing, they are now partners attacking the problem, and you are moving towards resolving the conflict. Instead of seeing each other as the 'enemy,' they are teammates combating the problem together.

In a future blog post, we will go through conflict resolution principles.

Chew On This:

  • How can you empower your team members to better hear each other?  What beliefs keep you from listening well?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

What the FitBit Taught Me about Healthy Competition

When I was younger, I trained to be a professional tennis player.  I had a competitive drive back then, and it served me well.  But as I became established in a helping profession, and being an ENFJ, I found myself working more towards harmony than competition.  I allowed myself to get out of balance and worked an insane number of hours.  I stopped tennis and most other forms of exercise, and gained a lot of weight.

Now I’m committed to getting back in shape.  I joined WeightWatchers, got a weight-loss coach, and got a Fitbit.  I posted on FaceBook that I wanted accountability and competition, and I asked FaceBook friends to connect to me on Fitbit.

I’d barely gotten the post out when a friend invited me to compete on his WorkWeek Hustle Challenge.

I know I must be behind the times a bit, but I had no idea what that was.

So then I read that it was a competition to see who takes the most steps between Monday at 12:00am and Friday at 11:59pm. The winner is the one with the most steps.

Until I was invited to join the WorkWeek Challenge, I had no idea how much of a competitive spirit was still in me.

When the WorkWeek Hustle started, I pushed myself hard and spent the first two weeks physically sore.  Like, so sore that my wife laughed when she heard how slowly I was walking down the stairs.

However, by the end of the second week, I could see that the number of steps I took had increased by a huge percentage over the first week.  My friends encouraged me and even gave me some tips as to how to improve.

At the end of each week, we “Cheered” the winner of that WorkWeek Hustle.

That got me thinking....  Is there a way to create a similar type of healthy peer-to-peer competition in the business world?  I believe that there is.

Here is what I learned from Fitbit WorkWeek Challenges and how it can apply to competition among peers who want the best for each other:

1. Healthy competition ends excuse making.

As implied above, when I was invited to compete, I felt an incredible drive to start.  No hesitation, no resistance. I did not care about having to wake up a little earlier, and I found I could workout when I would otherwise be somewhat brain dead. Even going to the gym after a long day was suddenly doable.  In other words, excuses went away.

How many times have we let excuses get in the way of what we know we need to accomplish?

What do you need to improve?

What if you got a small group of peers who were willing to compete with you in that area?  Make sure it is an area that is tangible. For example, a tangible area could be a specific sales number or percentage, the number of calls made, number of minutes spent thinking and brainstorming, number of ways you can encourage team members to excel, etc. Also, make sure it is something that can be done in a short amount of time (a week or so).  The idea is to push yourself, and one another, to really grow.

2. You can play to win even when you really like your competitors and want their good.

When I trained to be a professional tennis player, unless I was playing my tennis partner or someone from my team, I viewed my competitors as neutral “other” figures.  I did not hate them, but neither did I really want their good.  I just wanted to win.

When my doubles partner and I played matches against each other, it was different. Even during the match we would share how each other could improve.  The result was that it would make the matches even better.  We loved the challenge of beating each other at our best.  It was exhilarating.

During the Fitbit challenges, some of my friends have given me tips on how to take more steps.  It has been so encouraging and helpful.

Could you imagine what it would be like if your small competitive group wanted to make the improvements so badly that they pushed each other to improve and grow, even risking losing just to gain mastery in an area?

3. Increased fun.

It has been so much fun busting out a bunch of steps--only to see one of my Fitbit friends blow me out of the water. I can’t help but laugh and realize how much further I have to grow.  What is even more fun is when I outdo them the next time :-)

The same could be true for you and your small group.  Think of how much fun you will have as you each outdo each other.

4. Increased creativity.

When I first started these challenges, I was using strictly the elliptical.  I love the elliptical, but then I discovered I can take more steps per minute on the treadmill, and now the elliptical is a weekend thing, or a short alternative when my left shin feels like it is going to explode.

Being a creature of habit, I never would have come to enjoy the treadmill the way I do, had it not been for the Fitbit WorkWeek Hustle Challenge.

Anticipate that you will get creative in order to beat your peers.  Think of how much productivity that will bring to you.

5. Push myself above what I perceived was a limit.

I work long hours, having back-to-back sessions (face-to-face, Skype, FaceTime, or phone), so the thought of getting to 10k steps per day seemed like a fantasy.

Then I saw that most of my Fitbit friends were nailing their 10k steps, and I knew some of them worked long hours in back-to-back meetings as well.  In fact, some of them were consistently over 15k steps per day.

So I looked for ways to increase it.  Every little bit counted.

Then it happened.  I passed 10k.

So I went for 15k steps per day.  Nailed it the next day when I realized that if I pace during phone calls, it actually helps me to focus and coach better.

Then I wanted to see how far I can go.... I figured I could reach 18k if I went to the gym twice per day and went for a walk with my wife when I got home from work.  I was completely wrong.  I hit 21k steps in a day.

This would not have happened had I not seen Fitbit friends hit 18k-20k steps in a day.

So just think of how you will reach new limits through competing with your peers.  It is incredibly encouraging when you see your peers reach limits that you did not think you would reach.  And it is exhilarating when you blaze the trail by hitting the new limit first.

6. Chance to compete again next time.

With the WorkWeek Hustle lasting only 5 days, you have the chance to compete again next week.  This is a great opportunity to see how you can refine and improve your strategy.

If you are competing against your peers, make sure that the time of each competition is short, to give you plenty of opportunities to refine and implement a new strategy for the next time.

7. Competitors can celebrate together.

What has also been encouraging is to have fellow competitors “Cheer” each other on.  The winner of the week often gets showered with “Cheers.”  Yet, as much as we can be happy for one another, there is naturally a deep desire to beat them next week.

How often do peers cheer you on when you accomplish something?  How often do you cheer peers on?  I am not talking the short bravos that may take place on a team call.  I mean a heartfelt cheer.

Your small group of peers can do that for one another.

Developing a peer group to compete with will create a team of people who want one another’s best, who give each other tips to improve, who cheer one another on, and want to maximize their own abilities.

Chew On This:

  • Who are the peers that you will ask to join your company WorkWeek challenge?
  • What are the options for tangible areas in which you can compete?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

How Do You Know If Someone Will Really Change?

You are leading a team, and you want them to do their best. As with all people, including ourselves, there are areas that need to be improved.

Your team member says they will work on the change you suggested.

However, you have some doubts as to whether or not they will make the change, and if they do, you wonder how deep it will go.  Will it be temporary, for the sake of their job, or will it be a true transformation?  How can you know?

Furthermore, how can you help them, or coach them, to make the change?

Over my 26 years of counseling and coaching, I have observed that clients who have made significant changes in their lives have several traits in common:

1. Humility

Those who want to change are humble.  They take full responsibility for their weakness.  There is no minimizing, blame shifting, or rationalizing.  They offer a clear, “Yes, I see that. I need to improve that.”

This is often followed by an awareness that their behavior has had consequences. A humble person looks to make amends when possible.

2. Commitment

People who want to change will commit to the change.  This is not a surface level commitment, but a commitment that goes to their core.  Sometimes you can hear it in their voice, but most of the time it will be their actions that show their resolve.

3. Open-mindedness

Along with humility and commitment, they show open-mindedness.  They know they need help, so they listen for truth in order to determine how they will make the change.  Sometimes that means being willing to try things that are different.  They open themselves to new ideas from trustworthy sources.

4. Seeking Out Knowledge, Understanding, Wisdom, and Insights

As implied above, their open-mindedness leads them to seek out knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and insights from whatever trustworthy sources will get them there.

Some will research, hire experts, seek out mentors, etc.  The idea is that they want to have a plan for how to make the change happen for them.

5. Action Over Words

A striking thing I’ve noticed about those who really want to change is that they emphasize action over talking about the change.  I want to be clear.  It is not that they don’t talk about the change they want to make.  They definitely do.  However, talking about the change is usually the conversation starter, and those observing them can see them testing tangible actions to determine what helps them with the change.

6. Risk-Taking

As implied above, those who really want to change take intelligent risks as they try new things to effect the change they are looking to make.  Intuitively, they know that not everything they try will work, but they will give it everything they’ve got, even at the risk of being crushed if the change doesn’t happen.

Those who really want to change get up faster when they fail. They are willing to take more risks in order to get it right and see the change they want to happen.

7. Develop A Great Support Network

When someone wants to change, they develop a great support network.  Sometimes they may not be aware that they are building a support network, but often, in the process of seeking guidance, they find that those who give guidance become their supporters.

To make a real change, they need to be encouraged and know that there are others behind them when they feel weak.

They also need those who notice that the change is happening and will celebrate with them as they go.

As leaders, we can champion our team members who want to change just by encouraging their desire and drive to change.  If we see they are lacking in any of the above traits, we can encourage them to pursue it.

Some people start off with a half-hearted commitment to change, but through our coaching we can encourage them to fully commit to the process.

The great news is that as your team members learn how to make real, lasting change, they will become addicted to growing.  This will move them more and more towards becoming a high performing team.

Chew On This:

  • Who on your team will you coach towards a real and lasting change?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

How To Turn Around A Bad Performance Review

It was so uncomfortable.  I was sitting in the room while a client I had recently met laid into one of his direct reports during a performance review, and it was painful. I could tell that both the boss and his direct report were nervous.  The boss revealed his nervousness through anger and an attempt to wield power.  The direct report was just nervous.  A couple of times his hands shook. He did not say much, but that only seemed to anger the boss more.  It was horrible to watch.

A few years later, I was asked to sit in on a performance review between another boss (once again my client) and a direct report with whom he wanted me to work. As in the first case, it was not a good review, but this direct report used an entirely different approach as she responded.

Here are 6 things she did really well:

1. Lowered her defenses. She viewed the review as the start of her comeback story.

When the boss came in with lower scores than she expected, she openly said something to the effect of, “These scores (performance review scores) are lower than what I thought.”  Then she leaned in, smiled slightly, and continued.  “I will listen to you so that I can make any and all changes to ensure that the next review is a big step up from here.”

Her boss smiled and said something to the effect of, “I am going to help you get there.”

It was obvious that she did not let the poor review go to her core.  In that is a huge lesson for us.  The truest you is not your performance.  If you can separate yourself from your performance, you can gain a lot of insights that will be effective in raising you to the next level.

When receiving negative feedback, it is easy to get defensive.  We can be so afraid of how an authority figure is perceiving us that we want to make excuses, or deflect the criticisms, in hopes of convincing the person that the perception we fear they have of us is not true.  But defensiveness usually makes things worse.

Instead, view a negative review as the start to your comeback story. (Everyone loves a comeback story.)  If you can see it as the start of your comeback story, then you will probably regulate your emotions well enough that you can gain clarity on what and how to improve.

2. Listened carefully to the feedback and repeated back/paraphrased what she was hearing.

She continued to lean forward slightly as she took notes on what her boss was saying. She used positive body language (i.e. nodding her head up and down) to connote that she wanted to receive the feedback and was taking it in.

She repeated back or paraphrased at times, which had the effect of engaging her boss so that they were aligned together against the problem, instead of her feeling like he was against her.

Anytime she was unclear about something her boss said, she would ask for clarity.

3. Searched for what is true.

It is easy during a bad performance review to pick apart what isn’t true.  However, if you do, you will miss a huge learning opportunity, which will, in turn, hinder you from being the person you were meant to be.

Focus on what parts are true.  Repeat back or paraphrase those parts.

If some aspects are not true, and these are important, ask how you could address these without sounding defensive.  For example, “XYZ is true. I will work on that. There are a couple of aspects of what you said that seem to be important, and I want to address those in a way that doesn’t lead you to believe that I am defensive. Should we set up a time to talk about those?”

4. Developed a plan and asked for a plan feedback time.

When the review ends, don’t forget to thank your boss.  As you probably know from personal experience, giving a negative review is tricky.

Let your boss know that you are going to develop a plan around the areas of concerns.  Inform your boss that you are open to hearing what, if anything, was not included that might be helpful for you to implement in order to grow in the areas you need to grow in.

Also be sure to ask your boss if you could gain feedback on the plan.  This will further align the two of you towards the common goal of helping you reach your potential.

When making the plan, be sure to create small tangible steps that will encourage you and empower you to continue to make the journey towards transformation.

5. Included mentors and coaches in the plan.

Be sure to ask, if you don’t know, who the people are who are excellent in your areas of weakness.  Contact them and see if they are willing to mentor you.  Hiring a coach could also be effective in helping you continue in your turnaround story.

6. Made sure that the feedback time was clear.

When you have the feedback time with your boss, make sure you are completely clear on any points they are making.

Be sure to mention that you are grateful for the opportunity to grow and that you are committed to making the changes.

A poor review doesn’t mean that you are bad.  It can actually be the start of something fantastic.  Having watched a few people get promoted within a year of a poor review has more than convinced me that the sooner we let go of our egos and embrace a humble posture, the faster we can continue the climb.

Chew On This:

  • What will help you to believe at a core level that you are not your performance?

 

 

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

 

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.