5 Top Leadership Articles for the Week of July 17, 2017

We were so excited this week to learn that Inc. Magazine has listed Winning Well in its top business and leadership books written by women (and I’m proud to be one of the male co-authors in the list!)

Who can you inspire with Winning Well tools to blend the bottom line with the human spirit?


Each week I read a number of leadership articles from various online resources and share them across social media. Here are the five leadership articles readers found most valuable last week. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think, too.

What Type of Leadership Works In the Long Run? By Irene Froehlich on Forbes.com

The type of leadership that works in the long run is resonant leadership. What is resonant leadership? Resonance is the ability to empathize with other people. A resonant leader harnesses the ability to be in tune with the needs of their team.

The type of relationship you establish with your team is what counts in the long run, not what skills or intellect you possess. I’m not saying that those aren’t important. They are, just not in this context. Your skills and intellect help you navigate the team in the right direction, but your leadership keeps the team together and helps them achieve success.

My Comment: Resonance and empathy are vital elements in an effective leader’s relationship with their team. And Froehlich does a great job articulating how these characteristics benefit your team and your influence. However, it is important to remember that this focus on relationships must also be combined with a focus on results. When you focus on relationships and results in every interaction, you’re on your way to creating transformational results that will last.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of ‘Watch Me Swim’ Leadership by Scott Cochrane

Have you ever encountered a “Watch Me Swim” leader?

This is the person who insists on letting you know about every accomplishment they’ve achieved, no matter how small or insignificant. The attitude is very similar to the child splashing around the swimming pool, desperate for the grown-ups to notice their aquatic abilities.

For children in the pool it’s cute. For leaders, it’s a problem that can undermine their effectiveness because…

My Comment: This is an interesting article because it gets at an inherent tension for many organizational leaders: you need to speak up for yourself or risk being overshadowed by narcissists or better self-marketers. Just this week, I worked with a division leader who needs to do a better job representing her “wins” and results to her senior leadership so that they’ll have confidence in her (which they should – she does a great job.)

At the same time, as Cochrane rightly points out, leaders who must always call attention to themselves, particularly for less-than-vital accomplishments, undermine their own credibility and influence. As we say in Winning Well, they are “gaming the score, not playing the game.” Striking the appropriate balance of confidence and humility is important to your success. One way to do this is to be very clear about the top three results your team, department, or organization needs to achieve. As you achieve these results, blow the trumpet and let everyone know what your team has accomplished. Then you’re playing the right game, not trying to game the score.

One Thing People Want From Their Leaders by Kevin Eikenberry

Ask leaders what they want from their team members, and you will get a fairly consistent list:

They want people to:

  • Work hard
  • Be productive
  • Be safe at work
  • Listen
  • Be trustworthy

Fill in your blanks. Fundamentally, on top of all of that, they want their people to follow them.

So, if as leaders we want people to follow us, what can we do to improve the chances that they will?

Of course, there are lots of things we can do that can help make that happen, but there is one fundamental thing we can do; based on a truth of human nature. It’s something that everyone wants from their boss. If you can provide this one thing, you will catapult your odds at having the list above being true for your team members.

My Comment: I’m not going to tell you what Eikenberry says is the one thing you’ve got to have as the foundation of your influence, but I will tell you that I agree whole-heartedly and that if you think you do this, but people still aren’t following, you might want to re-examine your behavior to see if what you do lines up with what you think you communicate.

The Maligning of Management by Fred Ende at SmartBrief

Raise your hand if you consider yourself an educational leader.

Now raise your hand if you consider yourself an educational manager.

If my instincts are right, many of us raised our hands for the first one. Far fewer likely for the second.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we strive to be leaders before managers. After all, leaders innovate. They serve others before themselves. They take risks and help people do things that couldn’t be done were they not there to facilitate.

And managers? They make sure that things happen, often relying on attainable benchmarks that have been set. They keep organizations moving in a straight line and deliver performance that meets expectations.

While leaders lead, managers manage. Clearly, there is a difference between the terms around aspirations. While managers shoot for the horizon, leaders aim for the stars.

My Comment: I always cheer when I read articles like this one. For twenty years I’ve maintained that the supposed division between leadership and management is crippling the ranks of our frontline and middle level supervisors.

I compare it to driving a car. When you learn to drive, you learn to operate the brakes. You learn how to accelerate. You learn how to signal, how to change lanes, and how to control the lights, radio, and wipers.

Now, imagine someone whispering in your ear the whole time you are driving: “Accelerating and operating the radio are far better skills than braking or signaling your turns. Focus on the first two if you want to be successful.”

Hogwash!

You need all of it if you’re going to drive successfully. Likewise, you’ve got to both lead and manage if you want to succeed in creating transformational results that last.

The Leadership Skill Everybody Needs – and 90% of Managers Lack by Liz Ryan

There are good reasons it’s easy to find lousy managers in virtually every industry and function.

It is no surprise that nearly every working person has one Bad Boss story ready to share, if not a collection of them.

New managers typically receive little to no training in “people management,” although it is the crux of their job.

HR people describe how their training budgets are slashed further every year, and “soft skills” training is the first item to go when budgets get tight.

It’s not only managers who are thrown into the deep end of the pool in a new job and expected to swim. Senior leaders don’t know how to lead any more than their subordinate managers do.

Most of us struggle with higher-level communication skills like conflict resolution, negotiation, argumentation and persuasive communication. If it were up to me, every kid would learn and practice these skills starting in kindergarten.

My Comment: As an executive myself, and as a leadership development expert who has worked with thousands of managers around the globe, I completely agree with Ryan.

In fact, as an executive, I personally met with every new hire, gave them communication tools, and discussed the vital role that healthy communication would play in their success. Part of onboarding every person included communication and conflict resolution training. As an executive, the number one skill I look for in an employee that I want to promote to leadership responsibility is the ability to hold difficult conversations well. And, our leadership training cohorts frequently cite the Winning Well INSPIRE model for feedback conversations as one of the most valuable tools the received during the course.

If you want to be effective and influential, learning to communicate effectively will be at the core of your success.


We’re booking corporate leadership development and association events for 2017 fall and 2018 spring. Email or call to bring us and Winning Well to your leaders. Invite David and Karin to help your leaders transform their results without losing their soul (or mind).

To see David in action, check out this demo video.

 

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