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5 Steps for Correcting Communication Misunderstandings

Communication is a vital skill for leaders, yet it can often be messy.

Depending on what is said, how things are said, and how messages are received, misunderstandings can easily occur.

When you find yourself being misunderstood and having to navigate fallout, implement these 5 steps in order to get your team back on the same page:

1 – Refrain from Fighting Back

It’s natural to want to defend yourself and “set things straight.” However, that’s not the most productive approach. In our day and age of people being “triggered” by something someone said, it’s critical to maintain your composure so you can resolve the misunderstanding. When emotions get hot, leaders must cool things down. You can do that by refusing to lash out and fighting back to defend yourself.

2 – Reflect on What Was Said

No matter how hard you try, there will be times you say something wrong or your message is not heard as you intended. Take a moment to consider what was communicated and what might have been heard instead. Think about things from multiple perspectives so you can have a more informed conversation later.

3 – Maintain a Humble Demeanor

Pride builds a wall between leaders and their followers very quickly. If you truly want to make sure your message is communicated clearly, be humble and curious so you can get to the root cause of the issue at hand. Once again, don’t buck up to defend yourself. Instead, seek to understand what the other person heard that caused the misunderstanding.

4 – Seek Reconciliation

If there has been a breach of trust or a relationship is damaged, intentionally seek ways to reconcile with others. As a leader, it’s important to go first to find ways to make things right. This doesn’t mean you have to admit you were wrong, but it does communicate that you want to get everyone on the same page for the sake of maintaining healthy relationships and for the organization.

5 – Adjust Your Message as Needed

If, in your reflection and inquiries, you discover that you said something in error or inappropriate, go back and adjust your message. Sometimes the breakdown occurs because you assumed people understood more than they actually did. If that’s the case, give the backstory that can help them understand. If you used words that didn’t connect, try rephrasing things. Make the adjustments to do whatever is helpful to get your intended message across.

Communication is challenging. It always has been and always will be. But as leaders, we must work hard to craft and refine our messages so we can rally people together in order to accomplish the goals and mission of the organization. Don’t be sloppy in crafting your messages. Be intentional.

If you need help navigating personal or professional challenges, let’s chat to see how I can help you. CLICK HERE to learn more about my coaching services and we’ll schedule a time to talk about how working together may be just what you need to achieve your goals.

Until next time…make today GREAT!

4 Steps for Staying the Course When Success Seems Slow

Leaders are hardwired to win and often become very impatient when the wins don’t happen quickly. 

It’s easy to forget that big wins don’t happen overnight. They are made up of many small wins along the way.

In order to make significant progress and experience the grand results we desire, we need to maintain a proper perspective.

If you are frustrated with not accomplishing your ultimate vision quickly enough, take the following 4 steps:

1 – Review What You’ve Accomplished So Far

When you’re discouraged because things aren’t happening fast enough, it’s easy to feel like you’re failing or falling behind. The reality is that you’ve probably taken many successful steps forward that are required to reach your ultimate goal. When you feel down in the dumps, make a list of all the accomplishments you and your team have experienced so far. You might just be surprised how much you’ve achieved already.

2 – Celebrate Small Wins Along the Way

Now that you have your list of small wins created, schedule time to celebrate with your team. If they are personal wins, celebrate with your friends and family. But whatever you do, don’t gloss over them as if they don’t matter. While they may not be the ultimate achievement you desire, they are critical stepping stones in your journey. Allow yourself to feel the emotions that come with accomplishment.

3 – Remember the Importance of Compounding Interest 

Most people expect to jump from the starting line to the final destination in one giant leap. However, that’s not how success works. Each action you take compounds and multiplies. One small step may not feel like much at the moment, but it could be a key breakthrough toward achieving your ultimate goal. Keep taking action and trust that each one will build on the momentum of the previous steps.

4 – Knock Down the Next Domino

One key item could impact many others. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is one thing I can do today that will impact many others? 
  • What one action will trigger multiple reactions that will expedite my success? 

Invest the time to think strategically so you can make individual decisions that will eliminate many other decisions. Consider one thing you can do that will contribute the most toward your ultimate goal. These are all individual “dominos” that have the potential to knock down dozens or hundreds of others and fast-track your success. Don’t worry about every domino. Instead, focus on the significant ones that can make a big difference.

The success journey is often full of frustrations and discouragement. However, think about championship sports teams. It’s rare that a team will go through an entire season without challenges or setbacks. The great teams push through and stay the course knowing that perseverance will help them reach their ultimate goal. In fact, it’s often the challenges they face that lead to their greatest accomplishments. When they overcome each obstacle, it empowers them to tackle the next challenges that arise. This strengthens them to accomplish the goal of winning a championship that they only dreamed about at the beginning of the season. 

As a leader, model these four steps to your followers. They need to see you navigate the ups and downs of the journey toward achieving big goals. Help them focus on the small wins and celebrate with them along the way. Encourage them about what they’ve accomplished so far in order to progress toward the ultimate destination.

If you need help determining how to grow in critical leadership areas, let’s chat to discuss how I can help you. CLICK HERE to learn more about my coaching services and we’ll schedule a time to talk about how working together may be just what you need to grow to the next level.

Until next time…make today GREAT!

5 Questions to Receive Valuable Feedback

Leadership is challenging. 

That may seem like an obvious statement, but many leaders forget that what they’re doing isn’t for everyone and they don’t give themselves enough credit for stepping up to lead. 

The world is always changing.

Because of this reality, continual growth is mandatory if we want to continue leading in an ever-changing world. One key way to grow is to receive specific feedback from those you lead and your peers.

Many leaders are afraid to ask for feedback because they may not like the answers they receive. However, it’s vital for us to hear the truth if we’re going to shine a light on our blind spots and improve our skills.

In order to receive valuable feedback that you can use as a springboard for growth, ask the following 5 questions:

1 – What am I currently doing well as a leader?

Start with a positive question. People are often afraid to give feedback because they don’t want negative repercussions. When you give them an opportunity to share something positive, it will help ease the tension. If they struggle to tell you something, take note that it could be a sign that there are some obvious gaps you need to address.

2 – What areas do I need to improve?

People see others’ weaknesses more than their own. They already know where you’re struggling and probably have been discussing these weaknesses with others. Disarm them by telling them you truly want to know what they’re seeing so you can become better. Ensure that nothing they say will come back to hurt them. And sincerely mean it.

3 – How can I help you become more successful?

This question shifts the spotlight toward others. It communicates that you value their success as much as your own. When you ask this question, you’re giving them the opportunity to share their personal goals and express what they need from you as their leader to achieve them.

4 – What team or organizational gaps do you currently see?

This question allows people to give input about higher-level issues going on in the organization. Once again, they already see the gaps and have probably been talking about them with others. Giving them a voice to express what they’re seeing will help them feel valued and will help you understand issues to address from their perspective.

5 – Is there anything else you’d like to share?

This question is helpful because something may come to mind that doesn’t seem to fit the previous questions. You’re giving them an opportunity to discuss other matters that are on their minds in order to get their perspective. This can open the door to creative ideas and deeper relationships with your people.

Each of these questions is a prompt for deeper conversations. If you’re not in the habit of seeking feedback, be prepared for resistance. Many people get nervous telling their leaders about the weaknesses they see in them. However, when you make this a habit and people realize you sincerely care about their input, it can change your culture dramatically. 

When you ask these questions, you are displaying humility and communicating that you know you’re not perfect. This is significant because too many leaders carry themselves with a posture that communicates the opposite. Humble leaders who seek feedback are the kind of leaders people love to follow.

The key is that once you receive this feedback, you must do something with it. If you ask the questions but refuse to address your shortcomings, you will lose respect and people will not give you future feedback. Make sure you are intentional with both asking the questions and then taking action to grow.

If you need help determining how to grow in critical leadership areas, let’s chat to discuss how I can help you. CLICK HERE to learn more about my coaching services and we’ll schedule a time to talk about how working together may be just what you need to grow to the next level.

Until next time…make today GREAT!

7 Steps to Help You Reset After Disruption Occurs

If we’ve learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that disruption can happen anytime anywhere, even everywhere at the same time. We can’t control everything happening in our world on a daily basis. Chaos and unexpected surprises are inevitable. 

With that being said, it’s important for leaders to be willing and able to reset themselves, their teams, and their organizations when things go awry. 

When you find yourself navigating challenging situations and seasons, here are 7 steps to take to get a fresh start from a new beginning point.

1 – Review Your Mission, Vision, and Values

While things change around you regularly, your mission, vision, and values should remain consistent. Too many organizations go through the struggle of crafting important statements, then never reviewing them after the project is completed. When facing challenges, it’s vital to go back and review where you started so you can relaunch from solid ground. Review the documents you have created. Regain perspective of why you exist as a team and organization. Reset your thinking so you can advance confidently into the future.

2 – Embrace Your New Starting Point

As much as we’d like to change the negative things that have happened in our world or marketplace, we can’t. We can, however, control our thoughts and embrace the new starting point that we find ourselves standing on. Don’t long for the “good ol’ days.” Instead, accept today’s starting point for what it is and build from there. See it as a new opportunity to do something great.

3 – Determine Your Desired Destination

To be successful moving forward, you need to lift your eyes up from your current reality and envision where you want to go in the future. Embrace one of Steven Covey’s habits of highly successful people – begin with the end in mind. Don’t act until you know where you want to go. Otherwise, you’ll simply be busy but may not like where you arrive.

4 – Chart a Course to Get “There”

One key role of a leader is to map out the steps required to get from “here” to “there” for your team. After you’ve reviewed where you’ve come from, accepted your new starting point, and determined your end goal, it’s time to chart a course to travel. While plans may change along the way (and they likely will), develop a living document that states what needs to be done in what order and on what timeline.

5 – Clearly Communicate Your Plan

This step is critical to get everyone on the same page and rowing in the same direction. After you’ve done the challenging work of developing an action plan, it’s time to gather your team members together and clearly explain what needs to happen, who is responsible for each action step, and what the deadlines are for when things need to be accomplished. The clearer you are, the more effective and efficient your team will be.

6 – Review Your Progress Consistently

As you begin to advance toward your end goal, it’s critical to keep your plan in front of you consistently. What milestones have you achieved? What challenges are you facing? Where are you falling behind or exceeding your expectations? It’s wise to begin each week by looking at your plan to know what needs to be done and end your week by reviewing what has been accomplished. Check things off your list to build confidence and momentum.

7 – Reward Your Team for Progress

Finally, make sure to celebrate along the way. Too many leaders get caught up in the “doing” and overlook rewarding themselves and their teams for making progress. There are always new goals to achieve, but don’t overlook the importance of celebrating the milestones you accomplish along the way. Small celebrations are vital to carry you through to achieving your big overall victories. If you don’t reward progress, it will slow down and damage the morale of your team. Even if you need to assign a celebration coordinator, do it! Make sure your wins and progress aren’t taken for granted.

Leading during a season of uncertainty and disruption is hard. It’s exhausting. Leaders are fatigued from facing daily challenges. However, when you lead strategically by implementing these seven steps, you and your team will experience greater levels of success, which will motivate you to keep moving forward when you face new challenges that arise.

If you need help navigating your current challenges, let’s chat to see how I can help you. CLICK HERE to learn more about my coaching services and we’ll schedule a time to talk about how working together may be just what you need to achieve your goals.

Until next time…make today GREAT!

4 Steps for Becoming a Transformational Leader (Wrap-Up)

Over the past four articles, I’ve shared a powerful 4-step cycle that can transform your life and leadership when implemented consistently. Click on each word below to link back to their corresponding articles. 

CHOOSE. ACT. BECOME. REPEAT

These four simple words can be game-changing for you. The challenge is overcoming distractions and implementing the process consistently. This is where many people trip up. 

Over the course of my 25+ years of leadership development, I’ve come to highly value the necessity for consistency. 

People need leaders to be consistent in how they think, act, and interact with their followers. 

The quality of a leader’s life is determined by the choices they make, the actions they take, and who they become in the process. If you want to become better, you must make better choices and intentionally act upon them. 

Allow yourself to grow through the process. 

Take notes on the lessons you learn from both good and bad experiences. 

Teach this 4-step process to those you lead so they become better in their respective roles. 

Plaster this process in visible places to create a growth culture in your organization. 

Teach this 4-step process to your kids so they will be able to achieve amazing results earlier in life than you could ever imagine.

Make the choice to be like the person who gave me Becoming a Person of Influence when I was only 20 years old which set me on a leadership development journey I never knew was possible. 

Becoming a better leader isn’t just for your benefit, but it does start with you. 

Leadership ultimately is about others. Leaders take people to places they never thought were possible or even knew existed. Leaders have the power to change the world one person and one organization at a time. 

Imagine being the kind of leader people love to follow so much that they wake up energized each day to tackle the next challenge with you. 

Imagine being the kind of leader people look to in times of crisis and opportunity.

Imagine being the kind of leader people speak highly of and miss when you or they leave the team or organization. 

Imagine the words you would want your followers to share about you in a eulogy at the end of your life. 

Now, take those ideas and think about what skills and abilities you’ll need to develop to make this your reality. 

CHOOSE to become that kind of leader.

ACT on this choice to develop yourself. 

Be willing to go through the challenges of transformation in order to BECOME this leader. 

Then, as you reach new levels of growth, REPEAT the process. 

This is how you will become a transformational leader who has the ability to impact your followers, team, organization, community, family, and even the world at large. 

I believe YOU can become this kind of leader! 

If you believe you can as well, let’s go on this journey together and make a true difference to transform our world for the better.

If you’re ready to exponentially increase your leadership skills and impact, CLICK HERE to learn how to join the next Magnetic Leadership Accelerator group coaching program! 

 

5 Key Actions to Become an Adaptable Leader

If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s that adaptability is critical for leadership in uncertain times. Looking back, I’m quite amazed at how so many organizations pivoted in a very short period of time when they had to adjust to survive. 

I love the commercial of a bike company that shifted its business model to offer virtual video demonstrations using the Microsoft Teams app with customers all over the world. The owners tell the story of how their business expanded quickly because they were no longer bound by a specific brick-and-mortar location. What could’ve been crushing for this business became an opportunity to expand their reach globally. 

Not every business was able to easily adjust like this based on what they do, but many leaders who went virtual are saying they’re never going back to the way they did business prior to the pandemic. Only time will tell if this holds true, but the reality is that adaptability is a vital characteristic of leaders in today’s world.

How can you develop your adaptability “muscles” in order to adjust faster and better whenever the need arises? Consider the following five key actions:

1 – Always Be Prepared

When I was a teenager, I remember the youth leaders at our church teaching us to make decisions in advance so we would know how to respond when we found ourselves in various situations. They taught this because they knew we could either freeze up or make poor decisions at the moment, but if we thought about how to respond in advance, we could remain calm and think more clearly. The same is true in leadership. You don’t have to run “worst-case scenario” drills every day, but it helps to think through various situations to be prepared for critical moments. Think about how schools run practice emergency drills periodically in order to prepare the students for real threats. Determine “emergency drills” to do with your team so you’ll be more prepared for a variety of challenges.

2 – Expect Challenges Daily

No matter how solid your team and organization are, challenges will arise. In fact, leadership is needed most because of the inevitable challenges. Each day may not bring a crisis, but most have their moments of frustration. I once spoke with a leader who said he metaphorically walks around each day with two buckets in his hand – one with water to put out fires and one with gasoline to start them. I love that illustration because it’s so true! Some people are starting fires that need to be put out and addressed. Others need a fire lit under their seats in order to take action. Both are challenges that leaders must address.

3 – Respond, Don’t React

If you’ve done #1 above, this action is much easier. There is a fine line between responding and reacting. Responding carries with it a much calmer, thoughtful approach. Reacting can cause chaos. Think about first responders who show up on the scene of an emergency. You don’t see them running, but rather walking with intention. Why? Because if they run, they’ll be reacting based on adrenaline and be emotionally charged. This could lead to poor decision-making. But a calm, intentional pace allows them to assess and address the problem better. As a leader, if you run toward problems you’ll find yourself easily worked up and reacting. But if you slow your breathing and pace, giving yourself the space to assess things clearly, you’ll be able to respond intentionally. 

4 – Enlist Your Team

While the buck may stop with you as the leader, you shouldn’t ignore the very people you’ve assembled to help solve problems. You will see challenges from only one perspective, but your team members will add additional perspectives to help you see things differently. This is extremely helpful in times of challenge or crisis. I’m continually amazed that when I look at projects one way I don’t see a solution, but when I shift my view even slightly I can see things differently to accomplish my goals. We recently had a new stove delivered to our home and I didn’t think our old one would fit through our door to be removed with the door on its hinges. However, when the delivery crew arrived, they simply said to turn it sideways and it would fit fine. While I felt a bit silly, it reminded me to look at things from multiple angles more intentionally. The same is true in leadership. Ask for different viewpoints. Even if you don’t like what you hear, you can determine the best next move with a well-rounded assessment.

5 – Take Action Even When Uncertain

At the end of the day, leaders can’t sit still even when they don’t know what to do next. We gain momentum through movement. It’s like trying to steer a parked car. You’ll exhaust yourself trying to come up with a perfect solution and waste precious time. However, when you start moving in any direction, you can make simple course corrections that lead to better outcomes. Don’t let “paralysis of analysis” set in. Be thoughtful about how to respond, but then do something. The best action may be to enlist your team or quickly draft possible solutions on paper to brainstorm. Whatever feels right to do, do it. The only true wrong action is inaction. 

Imagine being able to confidently lead your team through chaotic, uncertain situations.

Imagine having a reputation for being a leader others can depend on when things to be falling apart all around you.

Imagine being looked to for guidance when challenges arise because you’ve built a reputation for success amidst difficulties. 

This can be your reality when you implement these five key actions.

In my book, The Magnetic Leader, I teach about 18 essential actions that leaders should take if they want to attract high-quality team members and keep them engaged. If you want to become a leader people love to follow, CLICK HERE to learn more and to purchase your copy today!

Until next time…make today GREAT!

Pursuing Your Dream Requires Letting Go of Something

Have you ever felt the tension of having a dream, but feeling the pressure of living in your current reality?

It’s human nature to want security and stability in the notorious “comfort zone”. The problem with staying in your comfort zone is that you often have this nagging feeling that there’s something more out there for you to be, do, or have. I believe that we are all wired to keep progressing in life. This presents a problem.

In order to move towards your dream, you have to let go of things along the way. Sometimes it’s the security of a “stable” job. Sometimes it’s moving to a new city. Sometimes it’s letting go of a relationship that is holding you back. Regardless of what it is, you have to let go.

Think of holding on to two boats that are drifting apart. One boat is your current reality; the other is your dream. At first, you can hold onto both and manage, but as they drift farther away from each other, you are stretched to the point where you have to make the decision to let go of one of the boats. Are you going to let go of your comfort zone or are you going to let go of your dream? That’s the question. It’s not an easy decision.

Today, spend some time counting the cost of staying where you are versus pursuing your dream. What price are you willing to pay? I want to challenge you to dream and think BIG – Be Intentionally Great. That means that you let go of the good to experience the great possibilities before you. Don’t settle for a life of mediocrity out of fear of the unknown.  Break through the “terror barrier” that is holding you back.

What is your decision? (And by the way…making no decision is a decision to stay where you are.) Will you be okay with that decision 10 years from now?