How to motivate your team to improve performance

A smooth, dynamic team that delivers results doesn’t happen by coincidence. Even if you already have an awesome team, knowing how to really get the best from them can be a challenge.

Here’s a refresher with some helpful tips to make sure that you’re motivating your team without the headache.

Step 1: Learn their “why”

We’ve talked a lot about the importance of knowing your why. It allows you to focus your efforts, make decisions with purpose, and ENJOY your work.

It’s absolutely no different for your team members.

Understanding WHY each of them is working for you / with you and what their driving force is can be a game-changer in terms of being able to position things in a way that suits them. It can help you help them reach their goals which gives them a fantastic reason to work as hard and smart as possible for you and your organization.

Let me emphasize — I’m talking about figuring out what drives each team member individually.  You can’t generalize that “the sales team” is motivated by X or the “why” for the Marketing Team is XX. Two people in the same role may have similar outlooks but we’re all individual and making assumptions about the whole team can lead to ruin.

Step 2: Cater to their communication style

I so often see poor communication at the center of issues in an organization. Clarity in communication can alleviate even the stickiest of situations. Remember, communication is as much, or more, about listening as it is about being heard.  One way to keep your team motivated is to make sure they feel heard.

Taking the time to figure out the communication nuances of each of your team members will save you hours of time resolving issues.

And, when there is clarity on what needs to happen next, what the most important priorities are, and what expectations are – it’s easy for team members to take it upon themselves to prioritize in alignment with organizational goals.

Step 3: Acknowledge and Reward your team

The ol’ carrot dangling thing seems archaic but despite all the changes to society – we’re not that different. We’re motivated by rewards and acknowledgement.

However, we each respond to different rewards and like to receive acknowledgment in different ways. The trick is figuring out who’s motivated by money, who likes time off, who likes flexibility, or autonomy and ensuring you’re rewarding people in the way they like to be rewarded.

The same goes for acknowledgement. One team member might love to receive accolades in a company wide email, while another may prefer a more quiet pat on the back.

Figure out who prefers what and speak to them in their language.

Coach’s Questions:

How do you plan to get to know each of your team member’s motivators? What step can you take today to understand nuances in communication style? What will you do to make a point of acknowledging and rewarding your team members the way they want?

Why introverts make incredible leaders (and what you can learn from them)

When we think of leadership, we often think of the bold, the charismatic, the loud. Meanwhile, the word introvert brings to mind qualities like shy, socially awkward, wallflower or insecure.

But, as a society, we’ve got it all wrong. Introverts are not necessarily shy or socially awkward or insecure. In fact, I know several people, myself included, who I would call outgoing introverts —  confident, engaging people who enjoy leading but who recharge with quiet, alone time.

You might recognize the names of a few famous introverted leaders, according to Inc.com:

  • Barack Obama
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Elon Musk
  • Rosa Parks
  • Bill Gates
  • Hillary Clinton

Even Lady Gaga has said that she identifies with introversion. I mean, Lady Gaga?! She most certainly doesn’t fit the stereotype of an introvert and, if you look into her work she’s more than a pop-singer but also a leader of social movements among her fans.

The bottom line is that introverts are different than extroverts. They experience the world in a different way but these differences are what can make them incredible leaders when their powers are leveraged properly.

Here a few typically introvert strengths that can translate to powerful leadership…

Introverts tend to consider decisions thoroughly

Introverts often need more time than extroverts to reflect, consider, and think deeply. They spend more time observing and listening and then go away to let everything percolate before presenting their thoughts or conclusions. This process can be confused with indecisiveness but can also be a highly valuable leadership trait that can help organisations make smart, strategic decisions.

Introverts excel in small groups and one-on-one relationships

Introverts are excellent at paying attention to the details of individuals and catering communication to suit individual needs. When you’re leading a team, there are many, many ripple effects to morale and productivity when your team members feel seen, heard and understood.

Introverts leave space for others

Introverts don’t typically strive to be in the spotlight. They’re happy to be there if it serves their purpose, or if they’re called upon in need, but because they don’t seek to be the center of attention, this can mean more space for sharing credit and accolades with their team.

Introverts listen

There is incredible power in leading by listening. Listening to what the team wants, what the stakeholders want, what the clients want, hearing about problems before they explode.

Introverts have the capacity to listen intently not only for what is being said, but for what isn’t, which can help them deliver more of what’s needed.

I recently met with a client who is a very driven, productive, extrovert. He shared with me how astonished he was recently when one of his team members had a personal breakdown despite having told him she was fine. He was confused why she didn’t just acknowledge her struggles and ask for help, but saw it as a learning opportunity to pay attention to more than the words being said.

Coach’s Question:

If you’re more extroverted, what typically introverted qualities will you incorporate into your leadership style? What can you do to support your introverted colleagues and team members?

If you’re more introverted, are you letting your leadership strengths shine? Are you allowing yourself to confidently follow your heart to lead others? How can you support your extroverted colleagues and team members?

5 steps to choose your next career move

Have you ever looked around at your career and wondered if you’re on the right path? Or, maybe you know you’d like to make a change but you’re just not sure how to go about it.

Taking the time to assess where you are in your career is an extremely valuable exercise. Even if you’re perfectly happy, it’s can be good to check in with yourself and your career at LEAST once every year.

Make it a ritual. Set an annual date for yourself, grab a glass of wine with a great view or a coffee at your favorite cafe.

So, when the days come when you’ve decided you do want to make a change – how do you know what that should be? 

Step 1: Identify the real issue with where you are

In order to ensure you don’t end up in a new position with the same issues creeping in over time is to get to the bottom of what’s not working where you are.

Are you bored? Overwhelmed? Unfulfilled?

Do you feel like you don’t fit in with your team? Do you disagree with your boss? Do you feel recognised and appreciated?

Or is the work the problem? Is it too easy or too hard? Is it too repetitive?

What do you like best about your industry?

What do you like best at your organisation?

What do you like best in your department or current area of work?

Take a week and observe the tasks that cross your desk. Which ones light you up and give you energy? Which ones are draining and make you want to procrastinate?

In your notebook, keep a list of the ones that stand out and what category each falls into (love it/hate it).

Step 2: Identify the type of career change you want to make

Figuring out what exactly needs to change is the first step.

You don’t want to make a change quickly because you just need change and find yourself back in the same situation in a year.

Throughout my own career, I followed a mantra for new jobs, and shared it with people who worked for me, encouraging them to follow it too. 

That mantra was, “Try always to run TO something, not FROM something.”  

Finding out what you want to run to is harder than just running from your current role, but figuring it out helps that change be profoundly successful.

Spend some time with a notebook or journal and do 10 minutes of free-writing answering each of these questions.

What are you most proud of, in your career? In life?

When you look at your list from Step 1 of what you love and what you don’t — does your industry provide this? Does your organization? Does your department?

If the industry is the problem, what other industries have organizations that meet your likes?

If the industry seems good, but the organizational level is a challenge, are there other (competitors, suppliers, etc) in your industry that would meet your needs?

If industry and organization seem good but you’re not feeling good in your department, then it might be time to move laterally in the company. What departments might offer the “likes” you’re looking for?

When you’ve gone through all this, and you look at your list of what you love and what you don’t love, and the industries, companies, departments — what would be a great job or role, regardless of money, title, prestige?

What might hold you back from going for that? What’s your gut instinct?

This will help you identify if it’s a complete career change, a change of organisation, a change of department or area of work, or just a step up from where you are.

Step 3: Research your options

Whether you’re looking at changing your career, your organisation, or your current role within your organisation – you’ll want to know what your options are.

Look at job boards and see what kind of roles pique your interest, jot them down.

Look at your company’s org chart and circle any roles you want to know more about. Think about the tasks from Step 1 and 2 and look for roles that have a higher percentage of tasks in your “lights me up” category.

You might want to reflect, in this Step, on:

How much effort are you prepared to put into finding the right next role? How much of a priority is it for you and how important is the next opportunity?

How much risk are you prepared to take in considering the right job or career? In pursuing it?

Step 4: Talk to people who are in roles you’re interested in

You don’t have to have it all figured out by this stage – this is still exploratory.

Find a few people in roles that you’re interested in and take them for coffee. The goal is to find out if the role just sounds good or if it really does align with the things you’re looking for.

A few good questions to ask them are:

  • How did you get to your current role? What has your career path been to date?
  • Do you have any special certifications or education that help you in your role?
  • What do you love about your work?
  • What do you find challenging? (Every role has a downside or challenges – find out what they are).  Keep in mind, what others find challenging, you might love — and vice versa.
  • If you could go back five years in your career, would you do anything different?
  • What are your next career steps?

This allows you to get first-hand information about the role you’re potentially interested in. If you learn at the end of the coffee meeting that it’s really not for you, that’s great, repeat Step 4 until you find some good options for you.

Step 5: Reflect & Decide

Take some time to go back through your notebook or journal and think about why you want to make a change, what exactly needs to change in order for you to be fulfilled, what types of responsibilities you want more of, and what options you have.

Think deeply about what you really want from your work and what you want to contribute and commit to taking the next step towards your goals.

Give some thought to a few more questions:

Why do you work?

List all of the reasons you work or have a career or job – for example, you might list things like? Prestige among my peers, to feel I’m giving to my community, to feel useful, to pay the mortgage, to continue the family business, to meet people, to earn some extra money, etc.

When you meet new people, how do you want to describe yourself in relation to your job or career?

Coach’s Question:

What is the next step you’re going to take to help you decide what your next career move should be?

Do you notice the sound of silence?

How comfortable are you with silence in a conversation? How common is it for you?

If you’ve grown up in North American culture, you probably have very little silence when you’re in a conversation with someone and chances are pretty good you’re not really comfortable with it either.

Studies have found the North American tolerance for silence during a conversation is one or two full seconds, at most, whereas in Japan it’s 8.2 seconds and almost as long in Finland.

Can you think of a time when there was an 8 second gap in a conversation and it didn’t turn you into panic mode trying to think of something to fill the space?

The thing is, space isn’t inherently a bad thing. The concept of “dead air” and silence being equated with a lack of conversation skills is a social construction – nothing more.

In fact, not only is silence not a bad thing, it’s can be a really good thing.

With silence we can gain wisdom, develop greater self control and demonstrate selflessness. It also lets people reflect, think deeply, say things they might otherwise hold back.

You may have witnessed this in negotiations or the last time you bought a car or a house.

People who sell large ticket items are often aware of the value of silence. A salesperson who outlines the benefits of their product and then shares the price might hear from their potential client, “Hmmm, it’s very expensive.” A simple, “I understand,” followed by a space is often met with the potential client saying, “But it’s gorgeous, I’ll take it.”

I’m not suggesting any one culture is better than another but when it comes to silence, the Japanese are on the right track. Silence really is golden — particularly when you allow silence into the conversations with people you lead.

How much silence do you have now?

Take some time this week to observe yourself.

Start with one to one conversations.

How much silence are you leaving after you ask a question?

How much before you respond to someone else’s question?

If you pause before answering, are they jumping in with other questions?

What about in group meetings — how much silence is there?

If there isn’t much silence, how much reflection might be happening? Or not?

So how do you bring more silence into your conversations?

Here are a few ideas for how to use silence to bring out the best in your conversations:

  • When you’re in a group meeting, pause, before jumping in. Count to two. Pause when you start speaking, count to two. Pause after asking questions, count to two.
  • When you’re meeting one on one with someone, particularly folks you lead, try asking open-ended questions as we suggested before in this blog. And then count to five. Yep, five. Let the other person take time to reflect before answering. If they haven’t answered by the time you count to five, it likely means you’ve asked a great question and they’re thinking about it — count to five again.
  • Another great technique is to pause after they speak. Ask a question, listen for the answer. Listen to understand, not to respond,. When they’ve concluded their response to you, take a few moments to reflect on what they’ve said. If you’re having a hard time, count again – this time to five or more. Ideally, use this time to think about what they’ve said. Maintain soft eye contact with them* and just reflect. See what happens. You may find they dive back into the conversation with deeper meaning and self-reflection.

*Soft eye contact means maintaining eye contact, without staring. Letting your eyes show you care.

As coaches, we frequently use these techniques in our coaching conversations. This is, in part, to allow ourselves to reflect upon what the client has said, to hear the feeling, the emotion, the deeper sense, but also to see where the client goes. Clients often dig deeper, or start to ask themselves some questions out loud, they themselves start to reflect on what they’ve just said. It’s spectacular — this is often where the “ah-ha” moments happen.

If silence feels awkward and you’re not sure how to maintain it, try asking, “and what else?” or something similar. “How does that make you feel?” “What did you think about that?” These slightly probing but engaging questions, fill the void a little bit, and help the other person to pause and reflect even more.

Coach’s Question

Where could you bring more silence to your conversations? What benefits are you missing in your meetings, and in your conversations with staff, by not allowing silence to do the heavy lifting?

What kind of leader do you want to be?

 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

– Maya Angelou

 

A lot of us don’t sit down and, with intention, decide what kind of leader we want to be. We learn, we lead, and we share. We practice continual improvement and we just work on being better today than we were yesterday.

There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, please don’t ever stop doing that.

But…

Every single day that we show up and contribute, we’re creating a legacy as the kind of leader we are, for better or for worse.

Whether we’re strategically building towards something we decided with intention or passively and reactively building, our choices and actions every single day are cumulative.

And, not only are we moving either towards or away from the kind of leader we want to be – we’re building our legacy as we go. What we leave behind is our contribution and that contribution is in service to the people we work with and those who follow in our footsteps.

What we leave behind is our contribution and that contribution is in service to the people we work with and those who follow in our footsteps.

How, then, can we actively choose?

How can we be mindful of the kind of leader we’re working towards and the legacy we’ll leave behind?

How can we decide exactly what it is we’d like to shift or change or influence? And how do we decide to be content with who we are?

Here are a few questions to get you thinking about exactly what kind of leader you are and whether or not you’re on track to be the kind of leader you want to be.

If your work were to be described as movement – what would it be?

 

What if, instead of thinking of leadership skills as a personal achievement, we consider them a contribution to a social movement. 

What is at the core of why you do what you do?

Is your leadership movement to help staff to feel empowered? Is it to be the leader who built a flat-organisation? Is there a human-centred cause at the root of the work that fires you up? What’s yours?

Is it to be the leader who built a flat-organisation? Is there a human-centred cause at the root of the work that fires you up? What’s yours?

What daily habits and micro-interactions are contributing to your leadership goals?

 

With health habits, every food choice we make is either neutral, helping, or hurting our health goals whether conscious choices or not.

In that same way, we are either working towards the kind of leader we want to be or not. The micro-choices we make every single day add up to who we are as a leader.

Do you keep your door closed? Do you schedule check-ins? Do you stop and ask your team how they’re doing – even in a moment of stress? How do you respond when you’re dismayed or unhappy?

How much do you delegate and how often do you redirect? Do you frequently run up against deadlines and ask your team to do the same?

What are your core values?

 

What have you noticed are deal-breakers for you in relationships? Is honesty high on your list?

Are there exceptions? What about altruism — putting the greater good ahead of yourself? Are there exceptions to that one?

Organizations sometimes have great definitions of the core values they look for in a leader (George Mason University has a nice succinct list here) — what would your own list look like?

Can you define it?

Coach’s Question:

How will people talk about the impact you had when you move on? What daily actions are contributing to your legacy? How can you start to ensure your daily choices are moving you towards your leadership goals and vision?  

Want better ideas? Ask better questions

If you’re like most of us in the 21st Century, you’re probably looking to be innovative and effective. You, or people around you might be talking about being “disrupters” in your industry.

You and your team might be trying to “do more, with less.” And of course, with access to the internet and a world full of data, that should be getting easier and easier. But, it isn’t getting easier.

You’re drowning in information and the decisions get harder and harder.

So, how in the world do you get to the good ideas? How do you find the information that will be helpful or innovative or groundbreaking? How do you explore that data and find what helps?

Well, like so much of what we talk about in this blog, it’s a simple idea that can be tough to implement – ask better questions.

If you’re a leader, whether by formal title or informal influence, you’re probably going to find asking questions a bit disconcerting. After all, you’ve gotten your title and your influence by having the answers. Now it’s going to look like you don’t know what you’re doing. Or is it?

Asking really good questions doesn’t leave people thinking you don’t know anything. In fact, in most cases it leaves people thinking, “Wow, what a great question, she always knows just what to ask to push us to better things.”

So what makes one question better than another?

Ask big questions early on in a project

Why are we doing this? What will success look like? It might surprise you how often you hear wildly divergent answers, from your team or your colleagues, to some of those fundamental ideas — it’s worth exploring them.

Ask some unexpected questions

What if we didn’t have any money, how would we do this? If something major threw us off track on this project, at what point could we say it’s “good enough?”

Ask open-ended questions

Letting go of that need to know the answer comes easier if you try to be really curious. “Tell me more about that… What makes you think that?”

If you struggle with asking curiosity-based questions you can try literally saying silently to yourself, “I’m curious to know…” before asking your question out loud.

“I’m curious to know, how might we do that with the deadlines we face?”

Encourage others to ask questions

One of my mantras when I was leading large groups of people was, “If you come to me with a problem, bring some solutions too.” It was meant to encourage thinking and discussion and sometimes it worked. But, it also left people floundering to find some solutions on their own before even coming to me. That was the opposite of what I wanted.

A better approach, if you’re going to have a mantra like that, is something like, “Come to me with problems and bring some curious and thorny questions we should ask ourselves about it.” That not only starts the conversation with some good questions but also encourages a questioning, thoughtful approach to problem-solving.

Coach’s Question:

What’s holding you back from asking questions, more than giving answers? Is it worth it? What big idea might you uncover if you asked better questions? What challenges are you or your organization dealing with, that might benefit from some big or unexpected questions?

Are you living in a constant state of urgency?

Busyness has become an epidemic of our time. You may have even noticed, it’s actually been glamorized in certain circles as if busy equates to important.

With the sheer volume of notifications and distractions that are inevitable every day, it’s no wonder that so many people are stressed out.

But, I have to ask – why are we all so often driven by deadlines? Why do we tolerate a life of reacting?

Urgent and chaotic busyness is a trap.

Quite often, it’s a habit that we get ourselves into that helps us avoid addressing what we really want in life.

What if I told you that busyness may be a way of playing small?

Hear me out.

We only have so much time and if our purpose, values, and vision are clear – it also becomes very clear how we should be spending our time. Prioritising becomes a piece of cake.

But, when we aren’t clear on our purpose, values, and vision – what happens?

Demands on time aren’t carefully screened for their relevance to our purpose, values, and vision.

We then allow all kinds of distractions and other people’s priorities to lead the way. Our life is made up of a series of reactions to whatever crosses our path.

We get stuck in a state of urgency that has nothing to do with what’s truly important.

The key to creating a deliberate life on track with our big picture vision and moving from a state of urgency to a state of focus is all about how we spend our time.

Urgent versus Important

Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix provides a great model for looking at how we spend our time and how we can make improvements.

The idea is to spend as much time as possible on things that are important but not necessarily urgent. That last part might sound counterintuitive, but stay with me.

Made popular by Steven Covey, Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix asks that tasks be broken down and assigned to one of four categories based on whether they are important and/or urgent:

 

Eisenhower Decision Matrix

image credit: www.gearsofmind.com

1. Urgent and Important

These are tasks that align with your big goals and vision but have gotten to a place where they’re urgent.

These can be emergencies, looming deadlines, and could arrive by calls and emails. Sometimes these are driven by a boss or board or can occur when something important happens.

Often a failure in something, or a problem (PR problem, governance concern, poor audit, etc) will make an important task also become an urgent one.

2. Not Urgent but Important

These are tasks that are important to your long term success but are not being driven by a looming deadline. Life events in this box could be exercise, vacation and family time.

Work activities in this quadrant could be launching a new product line, improving staff morale, moving to a culture of collaboration, adapting to changing client needs, etc.

You can see how those items could be hugely important but might not have the firm deadline on them like the more urgent things.

Staying on top of these items in Quadrant 2 not only has the most profound effect on you or your organization, it also prevents these items from becoming urgent (Quadrant 1) and thus a crisis.

3. Urgent and Not Important

These are often other people’s priorities that arrive as interruptions and distractions. For example, when someone stops by your desk to ask you a question or an email you receive where the sender has a sense of urgency but it’s not connected to what’s important to you.

4. Not Urgent and Not Important

These tasks are the time wasters, trivia, and busy work. They’re not urgent and they don’t connect to any greater purpose. These are things like watching TV and scrolling through social media without purpose.

So How Does This Help?

First, if you earnestly look at each task throughout your day and assign them to one of these categories, it can be very eye-opening to see how much time we spend on things that aren’t actually important.

And, there’s an energetic component to it as well. When you find yourself spending a lot of time on things that are not important and not urgent – doesn’t it feel kind of draining?

As if, you know that there are better ways to spend your time but you’re somehow stuck scrolling through social media or watching TV.

Once you’ve started figuring out which items are in which quadrant, and where you spend your time, you now start dropping everything in Quadrant 4, delegating or dismissing Quadrant 3 while putting as much effort as possible in Quadrant 2.

If there are items in Quadrant 1, clean them up and get back to Quadrant 2.

The goal is to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant 2.

I’ll emphasize that again, the goal is quadrant 2, not quadrant 1.

Items in Quadrant 2 (important but not urgent) are the big picture, long term things that change lives and redirect companies.

Items in that quadrant can become urgent too, but not often enough to wait for that to happen before you make them a priority.

If we spend most of our time there, important things won’t need to become urgent and we can stay focused on the big goals filled with purpose and meaning.

Coach’s Question:

Does your organization have a culture of busy = important? What will you do today to shift to important versus urgent?

Six ideas for successfully onboarding new employees

We’re lucky people here at Padraig. We get to work closely with some of the most amazing leaders and leadership teams across North America (and, indeed a bit of Europe and Asia too).

Not only do we get to help these extraordinary leaders become even better at what they do, accomplish even greater things and grow even stronger teams, we also get to learn from them. And that’s pretty amazing.

One of the areas we constantly hear great ideas from our leader clients is how to welcome new employees into the fold to help them get up to speed quickly and more importantly, successfully.

Here are some of our favourites:

Make sure you’re ready for them

Sounds a bit like a no-brainer, I know. But, you’d be surprised at how many organizations have employees who start their first day without a work station, without access to email, and without a plan for their time.

Remember, first impressions count and this employee is still deciding if they’ve made the right choice by coming on board with you. The position of power has shifted and great employees aren’t always easy to come by.

Before your new recruit arrives on the job – make sure they know you’re happy that they’re there.

Put a few things in place to “wow” them right away such as:

  • Make sure their workstation is set up and ready to go;
  • Have business cards printed and ready, if possible;
  • Ensure all IT is set up and they have access to email and other technology they’ll need, and
  • Prepare an agenda for them for their first week so they know exactly what they’re supposed to be up to. (But, make sure there’s lots of time to do everything so pressure is low. The priority is to bring them into your culture).

Small acts like these send the message that the new hire is valued and that, as an organization, you’re on top of the details.

Mentor them in

For every new hire, identify someone (or two someones) on your team who have experience that will help this person. Perhaps they did the job, or a similar one before (or still) and they’re great at it. Don’t forget that existing employees may not have experience mentoring people so walk them through how to help others and let them ask lots of questions of you before the new recruit arrives.

Use a shared profile tool for everyone

We use Everything DiSC®, our top-selling Behaviour profile tool, with companies around the world and they love it. DiSC is one of the simplest, clearest of these types of tools and, most importantly, focuses not just on knowing yourself but on figuring out others so you can adapt your approach and build stronger relationships.

Many of our clients who have had us in to do DiSC workshops or to do profiles for their staff ask us to run a quick profile for every new hire. It helps the new hire know themselves and we can then draw linkages to their new colleagues and help them figure out how to interact with them.

As well, it becomes a bonding experience over shared language when existing employees can ask them about their “DiSC type” and start a conversation around that.

If you’re interested in DiSC for your organization, Click here.

Make a lunch date

The first day on a new job can be overwhelming. Can you remember a first day in a new organization? Maybe your first day at college or university?

Make the first day a good memory for your new recruit by having one or more of their colleagues take them out to lunch. The company should pick up the tab while the new recruit gets to bond with their new team and the team get to enjoy a little perk while they welcome their new teammate.

Coffee Time

If lunch is too expensive, here’s an alternative we heard about that we think is a great idea: a coffee gift card. As part of your welcome package, besides the photo copier manual and a guide for how to sign up for the company insurance plan, give the new recruit a pre-loaded gift card for the best local coffee shop and tell them they’re to use it for taking each person on their team out for coffee.

Free coffee, and maybe a donut, are never a bad thing and it accomplishes a couple other goals:

1) Gives the new employee a really good (and easy) reason to strike up a conversation with a colleague, and

2) Get them to know their team and bond with them outside the immediate pressures of the workplace.

Accelerating Success

If the new recruit is going to be a leader in your organization — ie. responsible for leading a team of others, or leading a project with other members on the project team, we love doing our “Accelerating Success” program for them.

With this program we help the new leader and the team, get to know each other, overcome months of learning curves and deliver high performing results to the organization.  

Past participants have said this cleared out “6 months of BS and got us moving so quickly.” And, “Yesterday was the most productive meeting of its kind that I have participated in for a decade. Thanks for leading the time and the legwork beforehand.”

One of our clients even did a case study with us, comparing the situation when the new leader arrived to the situation after we ran the program.

The effects were lasting and a year later they calculated that their savings and gains from doing this program were 27x the cost of the program! You can read the case-study here.

The Coach’s Question

What are you doing to make sure new recruits land firmly and hit the ground running with confidence and pride in their new employer? We would love to hear your answers. Leave a comment below to share with us, and other readers, what has worked for you.

How to be an exceptional mentor

I sometimes get asked, “What’s the difference between a coach and a mentor?”

My answer is usually something along the lines of, “a lot and they can both be really helpful.”

What is a coach?

If you read this blog regularly, you probably have a pretty good sense of what a coach is.

We help leaders (and up and coming leaders), figure out how to be their very best — in a way that works for them.

We use provocative questions (open ended, bigger than everyday questions) and we use techniques like appreciative enquiry to imagine the desired future and figure out what’s in the way — drawing-out where they want to be and, most importantly, how to get there.

Good coaches are highly trained, experienced, and certified by the International Coach Federation.

They use their training, continuing education and deep knowledge to help you achieve things you might have thought impossible.

So, what is a mentor?

Mentors, on the other hand, are generally folks who have been there before you.

They’ve likely succeeded in a role similar to yours and have their own experience that they can share with you.

Sometimes their experience may have been difficult or unsuccessful and there is much to learn from that.

Or, their experience may have been wonderful and highly successful and, if you can emulate them while remaining true to yourself, you too may have success.

You can probably see why both coaching and mentoring would be helpful. You already know we can offer you a great coaching experience.

So today we wanted to give some ideas how to be a good mentor and things to think about if you’re setting up a mentoring program in your organization.

What EXACTLY makes a great mentor?

First, if you’re going to be a mentor, think of yourself as a “learning facilitator” rather than a problem solver.

Help your protégé find people and other resources outside of your own experience and knowledge.

Emphasize questions over advice. This is a coaching technique that works well for mentors too.

Ask about what’s being said and what’s not. If they talk only about facts, ask about feelings. If they’re focused on feelings, ask him or her to review the facts.

If they’re stuck on an immediate crisis, ask some genuinely curious, open-ended questions about the big picture. This helps them see alternative interpretations and approaches.

Don’t hesitate to share your own experiences, lessons learned, and advice, but emphasize that your experiences could be different from theirs and so should be thought of only as examples, and food for thought.

Limit your urge to solve the problem for them.

Resist the temptation to control the relationship and steer its outcomes; your protégé is responsible for their own success.

Know that your role is not just to help them build skills — it’s also to help them build confidence. You can help with that through supportive feedback and by helping them see what they do well.

Help them reflect on successful strategies they’ve used in the past that could apply to new challenges.

“In your last role, can you think of a time something like this happened to you?”

Be spontaneous now and then.

Beyond your planned conversations, call or e-mail “out of the blue” just to leave an encouraging word or something you’ve been reflecting on in your own role that might be helpful for them too.

Reflect on your role as mentor and ask them for feedback. Talk to other mentors too.

Enjoy your time as a mentor, knowing that this opportunity will undoubtedly boost your own awareness and success just as it helps your colleague.

Coach’s question:

Who already sees you as a mentor? Or who do you see as your mentor? And how could you establish a more successful mentoring relationship?

If you’re already a formal mentor, what could you be more purposeful about? Which of the ideas above are you going to start using?

5 daily habits of effective leaders

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”
– Will Durant paraphrasing Aristotle

We are what we consistently do.

Great leadership is made up of the small habits that we foster and the small habits we’re unaware of.

It’s made up of a lot of little things done consistently over time and one of the big keys to success is being mindful and purposeful about what we do day over day.

In the same way we can’t go to the gym once and get fit, drink a single green smoothie and stay healthy for a year, we can’t have one good conversation with a member of our team and call ourselves Leader of the Year.

So what then, are the small habits that done consistently over time that create effective leaders?

What are the things that when done earnestly create great culture, supportive environments, and effective fulfillment of organizational vision?

Here are 5 habits that we here at Padraig have found to be particularly important – not to be done as one-offs but as a PRACTISE.

1. Ask for help

Sometimes, as leaders, we feel like we have to have all the answers and it’s simply not true. Maybe you already know this but what about asking for help as a practise, as a habit?

What about building in soliciting input as a part of your organization’s culture? Making, “So, what would you do?” a daily question to staff and peers.

One of the things we’re finding with a large organizational clients right now is that their leadership teams don’t see themselves as a team — not because they don’t want to and not because they don’t trust each other, but because they seldom have occasion to offer and ask for input and collaboration between themselves.

As they’ve started doing this their trust levels have increased, their successes are building and overall they’re becoming cohesive teams.

Make asking for help from staff and peers a habit and you’ll be surprised not only at the collaboration environment it creates but also the quality of ideas and solutions that you receive.

2. Connect with the big picture

How often do you find yourself bogged down with day-to-day tasks. Or even saying to yourself, “Once I get through this task or this list, I’ll be able to focus on direction, vision, and higher level work”?

We see this in our clients and, I’ll let you in on one of my little secrets — I do this too. FAR too often.

To help keep the horizon in focus, we encourage our clients to set time aside every single week to connect with their big picture.

I’ve found if I set time aside each week to reflect on my own WHY and the organization’s WHY, you’ll find that it creates more time and space than it takes.

Back to our health metaphor, just like going to the gym doesn’t increase your well-being only during the time you’re actually in the gym – there are ripple effects that go on for hours and cumulatively, you can change your life and body with consistent gym sessions over time.

Connecting with your big picture is no different – you’ll feel more inspired, you’ll find more clarity and focus, and decisions becomes easier, faster, and more effective.

A few ways you can connect with your big picture each day are:

  • Have a sticky or a quote or a reminder somewhere clearly in sight of both your why and your organization’s why. If you don’t know what I mean by “your why” or “your organization’s why”, click here to read our blog on that topic.
  • Have a Monday morning or Friday afternoon coffee date with yourself where you review your goals, why they’re important, and set three actions you’ll take the following week to work toward those goals — then post them in a place you view daily.
  • Start a journaling practice where you brainstorm ideas on your vision and your why at the same time each day — some clients like doing this at the start of the day, some at the end of the work day and some as they wind-down for the night. The key, like all habits, it to just do it.

3. Over communicate the vision

It kind of sounds annoying, doesn’t it? Like being pestered with emails all day? That’s definitely not the kind of over communication that I’m talking about.

Here I’m talking particularly about over communicating the big picture.

Not in a brain-washy way but in a way that makes certain that everyone knows what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and why it’s important.

This isn’t about more broadcast-style announcements and communications but engagement.

Find creative ways to check in with your team daily and see where they’re at with their understanding of your purpose as an organization such as:

  • Don’t be afraid of repetition when it comes to ensuring your staff is on board with the organizational vision – repeat it daily in staff meetings, emails, and one-on-one conversations.
  • Mentioning to your team members and peers how you see their tasks — X, Y or Z, fitting into the big picture of A or B or C. Why is it important that we do X?
  • When staff come to you with questions – unsure how to prioritize an overwhelming number of tasks, ask them which ones link most critically to the big goal of A or B or C.

4. Celebrate mistakes

We can’t fully know what works without figuring out what doesn’t.

Mistakes can guide us. Testing new things and learning from the results is one of the best and fastest ways to find the best way of doing things.

Some of the best lessons come from mistakes and if you’re making some mistakes, it means you’re pushing your boundaries/limits — if you’re never making a mistake, you’re probably playing it too safe.

How can you make celebrating mistakes part of your daily culture?

  • Develop a risk managed culture — talk about what could go wrong, acknowledge if that would be manageable and/or how would you make it manageable? What risk mitigation will you take to let you try this new idea.
  • Change the language around mistakes and failures, consider them “learning opportunities” or some other euphemism that doesn’t draw eye-rolls but makes it ok to make a mistake — as long as we acknowledge the mistake and the lesson(s) we learned from it.
  • Have an acknowledgment system for when teams make a mistake and learn something.
  • Track all new initiatives and celebrate the outcome – success or something learned.

5. Embrace different perspectives

As objective as we like to think we are – we always have blind spots.

We always have a biased lens through which we view all things. And that very lens is what makes us great in a lot of ways.

But, knowing that we can’t possibly see all the angles at any given time is just as important.

There are many viewpoints, perspectives, and takes on each and every issue we face in a day. Effective leaders figure out their bias and know their blind spots and truly embrace when others bring them a fresh perspective.

Maybe this isn’t foreign to you. Maybe you do this sometimes.

But, taking this from a once-in-awhile leadership concept to a deliberate and daily practice creates not only an environment where you’re proactively seeking out blind spots but one where the team feels valued and heard, as well.

Coach’s Questions

How can you shift leadership concepts from once-in-a-while to a daily practice? What is the next action you’re going to take to implement one of these habits into your day?