Doug Thorpe is a proven business leader with experience in Fortune 500, non-profit, service sectors, and military. He has a passion to guide new, first time managers; helping them find health, wealth and happiness while they master the demands of learning how to lead others.
If you are already in a leadership position or want to be in one, you should reflect why? Are there certain skills you demonstrate? Have you always been in leadership? Or do you know you have potential that others may not yet recognize?
While our adult life and the effort to earn a reasonable wage both create opportunities to use leadership skills, there are core values that begin much earlier. Leadership begins at home.
Sunday, June 17th will be Father’s Day. The tradition started roughly around 100 years ago, but its exact origins are disputed. Some historians believe it began as an American movement.
But there are two different accounts as to who invented it and the reason behind it. Some believe the holiday was founded in Fairmont, West Virginia in 1908. A year and a half before, there was a mine explosion in a nearby town called Monongah. 360 men died, 200 of whom were fathers, who left behind widows and children.
A woman called Grace Golden Clayton was moved by this and went to visit her Pastor, Reverend Robert Thomas Webb. She suggested that there should be a special day dedicated to honoring fathers. Grace chose July 5, 1908, to celebrate the first Father’s Day, because it was the nearest date to her late father’s birthday.
Unfortunately, Grace’s Father’s Day was unsuccessful, as it was not promoted outside of the town, and more importantly, her town held a huge July 4, Independence Day festival which overshadowed her event.
Meanwhile, other historians believe a woman called Sonora Dodd from Washington invented the holiday instead. After hearing a sermon about Mother’s Day in 1910, Senora began to wonder why there wasn’t a day dedicated to fathers. Sonora and her siblings were raised by their father, following their mother’s death.
She wanted Father’s Day to be celebrated on June 5, her dad’s birthday, but the church felt they needed more time to prepare, so instead June 19 was chosen.
The United Kingdom’s celebration of Father’s Day is thought to have been inspired by the American version.
The Father Figure
Our experience with our Fathers influence who and what we become. If you were blessed with a Dad who was your first mentor, you are very fortunate. Life lessons, coping skills, hobbies, crafts, sports, and other life-long behaviors are nurtured by loving, caring Dads.
Sadly, too many of us suffer from relationships with Fathers that leave much to be desired. Perhaps even physical or emotional wounds were created that take years to overcome.
If you were in the first category, congratulations. Hopefully, the teaching and encouragement provided by your Father helped shape and mold the leadership values you use today.
However, if you count yourself in the second group, you have work to do. Throughout my career, I have encountered professionals who had the bad home life. Interestingly, they do one of two things. Either they perpetuate the brutish behaviors and emotional abuses with co-workers and employees or they turn 180 to run in an opposite direction, vowing never to be “that guy”.
The ones wanting to improve and grow beyond their bad start often make amazing leaders. Why? Because they are open and receptive to the things that can shape them into much better people. If your heart is open to that, good leadership frequently follows.
I never knew my Dad. He died before my second birthday. Fortunately, my Mother had the wisdom and foresight to know I would need mentoring from men. She worked diligently to build a small but dedicated network of men in our community who were willing to take me under their wing. Over the years I watched these men model what they told me.
Jack was my Scout Master. From ages 9 to 12, he was my rock. He was there for everything a young boy ever wanted to ask. Then there was George who taught me woodworking. But the lessons in the shop were not limited to just the tools and the wood. There were life lessons like don’t try something important when you are angry. Don’t use the wrong tool for the job, you’ll break the tool, ruin the material, or hurt yourself. Closer to high school Dan came along. He showed me his business. He taught me about inventory, cash flow, and sales. Those lessons were often discussed on the tennis court or wading in a stream, catching fish.
The collection of influence I received helped me to realize natural gifts and talents I could use while I learned other things. Leadership started at an early age and has grown ever since.
It Begins at Home
Regardless of your position in life right now, if you are a parent, you have a big responsibility. I’m not talking about the obvious care, feeding, and safety of your kids. Instead, I am talking about creating an environment for learning, growth, decision making, and creating in your kids their own sense of responsibility to others.
Setting a moral compass with strong core values of right and wrong, service to others, and love of something much greater than yourself; those are principles that build strong leaders. Our country and the world need the next generation of leaders prepared and ready when they become the “next one up”. You can start now building that legacy for yourself, your family, and the community around you. YOU can make a difference.
If you are in a position of management at your place of employment, you have choices to make every day. If you are relatively new to the position, whether due to sudden promotion or career advancement, you likely feel a sense of being overwhelmed. As you get your feet under you, you have even more choices to make.
There’s a way of thinking known as “fake it ’til you make it.” As insincere as that sounds, it is a widespread practice for aspiring managers and those simply trying to survive.
I like to think of this concept as the difference between being an actor or an expert. From time to time I am asked if I am an attorney. Over the years I have worked with so many lawyers, I have a pretty solid understanding of the key principles they use to accomplish their job. So, in many instances, I can talk at deep levels about the aspects of deals being done.
When I am questioned about my law degree, I usually reply “no I am not an attorney, but I played one on TV.” You can have a deep understanding of a subject yet still not be an expert. You can act the part, but not really know the material.
Actors famously study their characters, often pursuing real-time experiences doing the things the person did. The experience builds an appreciation so that the portrayal on screen looks real. Managers often do the same thing. Good managers walk the floor, asking questions about the activity of their team so that they can better comprehend the details and build a base of understanding for what it is they manage.
Leadership is another specialty unto itself. While many think they understand what management is about, few really differentiate leadership from management. After all, we know who the managers are because of the titles given to them. You’ll seldom see a nameplate with “leader” somewhere in the title. Leaders work on the development of their leadership skill set too.
If you don’t have a following, you’re not a leader, you’re just taking a walk.
Leaders are recognized for their ability to create followers. If you lack a tribe of followers, you are not yet a leader. You may want to be the leader, but without the ability to influence those around you, you are not their leader.
To understand the difference between management and leadership I like this simple explanation; Management is about process. Leadership is about people.
Managers impact the way a team operates. They can set procedures, policies, and practices. Good managers hit the goals, control expenses, and keep things humming. However, leadership gets into the hearts and minds of the people. Becoming a true leader can set you apart from the managers in your peer group.
Becoming an expert at leadership allows you to begin building a legacy of leadership, influencing those who report to you.
It has been said the true measure of a leader is not what happens while they are present, but what happens once they are absent.
Development and Coaching
Business schools have only recently added leadership courses into their curriculum. For decades MBA factories focused on balance sheets, cost control, and finance to teach the business leaders of tomorrow. Then someone decided maybe this leadership arena is worth our attention. Now, going for a post-graduate degree in business will likely have you participating in leadership classes and workshops.
However, if you are already in the workforce and never got that leadership training, coaching is your primary option for expanding and growing your leadership effectiveness. As I engage new clients we always have an “AH-HA” moment. The light bulb goes off and the client realizes the missing link for the subtle, but significant difference between being a good manager and great leader. Once that happens, the energy levels rise and the focus on creating meaningful impact grows.
I’ve dealt with very senior managers, C-suite people, who still needed their own AH-HA moments to make the difference. You too can join them in growing your ability to lead others.
Question: What are you doing to develop your leadership muscle, your toolkit for better leadership and influence?
Better than anticipated results have recently been reported for the US job market. According to a recent Houston Chronicle article, “Employers added 223,000 jobs last month, more than economists expected and an uptick from April’s hiring rate of 159,000.” The US Department of Labor released more data.
“Never before have we had an economy where the number of open jobs exceeds the number of job seekers,” said US Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta.
With the lowest unemployment rate in over 18 years and the rise in new opportunities, the competition among employers for qualified candidates is strong. And, with a growing job force, the need for qualified leaders grows too. There is an ever-increasing need for qualified managers with effective leadership skills to guide businesses to achieve the results they expect.
Next Man/Woman Up
Sadly, we are plagued with a business mindset that resorts to promoting the best performer when there is an open manager seat. And, without effective leadership coaching, the person who gets this job either sinks or swims. If they sink, the company loses in many ways. If they swim awhile, they might even get promoted further. All of that without effective leadership training.
In the small business and entrepreneurial realm, we see people with great product and service ideas start companies, but fail within the first 5 years. Why? Generally, because the great thinkers aren’t always the best managers and leaders. The bright idea may only go so far without strong leadership muscle. “If you build it they will come” doesn’t work very often either. Without leadership that can sustain forward progress and growth for the enterprise, the business folds.
Leadership Coaching Naysayers
In another article circulated on LinkedIn, the author questioned the impact of leadership coaching, calling it the “buzz du jour.” He argued we all can’t be leaders, citing an army of generals and no soldiers. The basic word picture is true, we don’t need everyone equipped to lead at the highest levels. Yet we must equip leaders who are put into those positions so that the outcome potential for the organization is realized.
Back to my First Statement
I’ve known too many professionals and business owners who land on great opportunities but quickly hit the ceiling of their own ability to lead. We know this phenomenon as the “Peter Principle.” Or, the observation that in an organizational hierarchy, people tend to rise to “their level of incompetence.”
As people are promoted, they become progressively less-effective because good performance in one job does not guarantee similar performance in another. Named after the Canadian researcher Dr. Laurence J. Peter (1910-90) who popularized this observation in his 1969 book The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong.
The perceived incompetence for senior managers is seldom about technical ability. Rather it is about the ability to manage and lead a larger team, balancing people issues with business growth and change. John Maxwell calls the Peter Principle “The Law of the Lid”. Leadership coaching can help raise the lid on leadership effectiveness.
Don’t Invest in Coaching, Invest In Results
Busy executives and business owners don’t need reasons to spend money, they need results. Leadership coaching can help you get the right results:
Find new ways to better utilize direct reports
Foster higher levels of team trust
Provide sound advice for change management initiatives
Uncover blind spots in a person’s leadership ability
Raise executive presence
In addition to all of those opportunities, solid leadership coaching also provides the Executive with a private and confidential sounding board for ideas, fears, doubts, and concerns.
“It’s lonely at the top” is a very real and present danger for leaders. You can’t share just anything with anyone. Having a coach to hear the thoughts keeping you awake at night can be very freeing.
On that note let me stress, coaching is not psychotherapy. That is reserved for other licensed professionals. Coaching is about looking forward to a future state you plan to achieve, not looking back at one’s past.
The Choice Is Yours
Whether you believe in coaching or not, someone is going to have to lead the next wave of our growing workforce. Why leave it up to chance?
Before you choose an executive coach, there are things you should consider. Learn more about what to look for from your coach. Click Here.
While there are many attributes that define good leadership, we usually think of a leader’s ability to share a vision as the real indicator of that leader’s reputation. Vision is often thought of as being synonymous with leadership. Having a vision for where the team is going is what being a leader is about, right?
You don’t have to be the owner or CEO to commit to a vision for growth and success. You can lead from within an organization by being able to inspire others to get on track for driving toward a vision; a vision set by others above you.
However, there is a breakdown that can occur when a person in authority tries to execute on a vision. I’ve seen managers, very senior managers, who know the vision. They helped write it. Yet their ability to lead others to achieve that vision fails. Why?
Once a vision is crafted and carefully written, you have to get buy-in from those who must execute the vision. Your team has to embrace the merits of the vision. They need to understand why and ‘what’s in it for me?’ Those are fair questions for employees to be asking.
Obtaining buy-in is where a Manager may fail as a Leader
Buy-in is hard to achieve because people don’t buy into ideas, they buy into people. The person sharing the idea must be credible, relatable, and someone with whom others can identify.
Your people need to buy-in to you before they buy-in to your vision. Being just another talking head in a management seat will not go very far.
John Maxwell writes about the principle of the buy-in in his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”.
People don’t follow worthy causes, they follow worthy leaders who promote causes they can believe in.
Having an understanding of that will change your whole approach to leadership. When your team begins to process the content of the message you may be sharing, they first filter it through you.
Ask Yourself This Question
What is the current level of buy-in for the people you lead? If your team is small, make a list. Rate each team member’s buy-in on a scale of 1 to 10. A 1 means they wouldn’t follow anything you say. A 10 means they’d follow you anywhere. If your overall ranking is low, you have a lot of work to do before the team decides to find another leader.
What to Do?
Here are some ways you can earn credibility and increase your leadership.
Develop better working relationships
Be honest and authentic as you earn their trust
Hold yourself to high standards, setting a good example
Give them the tools to do a better job
Help them achieve personal goals at work
Develop others as leaders; mentoring them along the way
Make your strategy unique to each person. As Maxwell says “If you make it your primary goal to add value to all of them, your credibility factor will rise rapidly.”
Question: How are you doing with earning buy-in from your team?
The CEO was fed up. If she got one more complaint about the VP of Operations she was going to fire him. It was obvious when he was in a bad mood because he yelled at his people and slammed doors. The team was easily upset and often distracted which affected their productivity. The outbursts from the VP influenced how the team dealt with customers. Clearly, the ripple effect of the VP’s bad moods negatively impacted the company’s bottom line.
Human behavior is like an iceberg. We see how people behave but we don’t always understand what drives the behavior. Using Emotional Intelligence is like putting on your scuba gear to check out what is hidden beneath the surface. Once you know which emotions are influencing your behavior, you can use those emotions more effectively.
What is EQ?
Emotional intelligence (EI), also known as Emotional quotient (EQ) and Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EIQ), is the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately. EQ can be used to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s).
In his book Primal Leadership, Daniel Goleman cites research indicating that leaders whose styles had a positive emotional impact on their teams generated measurably better financial results. Teams with higher engagement have lower turnover, above average productivity, higher customer loyalty and higher profitability.
Ways to Improve
Below are some ways in which you can cultivate and increase your EQ:
This is the ability to label, recognize, and understand your own emotions. Self-awareness requires us to tune in to our feelings and not avoid our negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, and sadness. Recognizing our own emotional states and how they affect our thoughts, behaviors, and decisions is the key to cultivating self-awareness.
Emotional regulation has to do with our ability to control strong emotions by not acting on raw feelings in an impulsive or destructive manner. Developing the ability to sit with unpleasant feelings and to give ourselves the time and space to decide how we may alleviate or reduce negative feelings cultivates self-confidence. Emotional regulation also helps us develop the ability to consider various solutions to a particular situation or problem. Not reacting solely to an emotionally charged state results in better decision-making outcomes.
When we empathize with others, we develop deeper, more intimate relationships. Empathy is the ability to recognize how and why people feel the way they do. Empathy allows us to anticipate how our actions and behaviors influence other people as well as our own. Developing empathy skills enhances our experiences, relationships, and general understanding of ourselves, other people and the world around us.
This is a very broad term. In general, having strong social skills means having the ability to communicate in a clear, concise, and courteous manner. In a nutshell, good social skills are the summation of all of the components of EQ: self-awareness, emotional regulation, and empathy.
If you want to positively impact your bottom line, find a coach or trusted advisor who can provide assessments and suggestions for improving EQ for yourself or someone on your team.
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Cheryl Smith Bryan, an ICF Certified Coach, and advisor. Cheryl has served as a board member of the Houston Chapter of the International Coach Federation, a committee chair for the Women’s Energy Network and a mentor for at-risk children. She has been quoted in local and national business publications and has made presentations to a number of industry and professional associations. Visit her blog HERE
Many leaders build their careers and reputations solving problems. Often, the problem as you know it is not really the problem. Finding ways to maximize success, reduce risk, and win the day is what can make a leader’s problem-solving skills so special.
Yet when faced with a new challenge, you sometimes feel stuck. How do you get unstuck? “Re-framing” is one of the most effective ways to find creative solutions to pending problems.
A “frame” or frame of reference is a complex set of unquestioned beliefs and values we use when inferring meaning. The meaning changes if any part of the frame is changed (hence ‘reframing’). Then the meaning that is inferred may change.
To “reframe” is to step back from what is being said to consider the frame or ‘lens’ through which this reality is being created. Understand the unspoken assumptions, including beliefs and schema that are being used.
Then consider alternative lenses, effectively saying ‘Let’s look at it another way.’ Challenge the beliefs or other aspects of the frame. Stand in another frame and describe what you see. Change attributes of the frame to a reverse meaning. Select and ignore aspects of certain words or actions, and reframe to emphasize and downplay various elements.
Thus, for example, you can reframe:
See a problem as an opportunity
See a weakness as a strength
View an impossibility as a distant possibility
See a distant possibility as a near possibility
Look at oppression (‘against me’) as neutral (‘doesn’t care about me’)
Think of unkindness as lack of understanding
You can often change a person’s frame simply by changing their emotional state, making them happier, more aggressive, etc. When they are happier, for example, they will be more positive and optimistic (and vice versa).
Reframing may sound easy. However, it is not. We all have a natural tendency to rely on past experience to drive future results. If your track record is a good one, why wouldn’t you use old answers for new problems?
The chief reason NOT to rely on old solutions is that new problems may contain just enough variation in facts or circumstance that your old answers no longer fit.
Reframing creates a new vision. By looking at things through a different lens, you see new opportunities. Taking contrarian views can even eliminate some situations that may otherwise be seen as problems.
Making Your Own Changes
Re-framing is also very helpful when you are trying to make changes in your own life. Your visions for the “new you” may create natural roadblocks. Limited thinking might prohibit forward motion. Yet by re-framing the proposition, you can make progress.
Throughout my life, I hated going to the gym. I just wasn’t a gym rat. It was a big turn off for me. Then one day talking to friends, I decided it was time to make some big changes for long-term health. The master plan included finding a workout activity that made sense. Ultimately it involved a gym membership.
My decision to make the bigger changes had me re-framing my view of the gym. It was no longer simply about doing some time there. It was about adding to the plan I had developed. Plus, by shopping for a suitable solution, I found a place with a different culture. It was more of a community event than a solitary workout. I scheduled my sessions that were group workouts led by qualified coaches. The energy created by the group pushing and encouraging one another made the experience far more rewarding.
Try for Yourself
When the next big change or challenge happens, try re-framing. Flip it around. Don’t let old habits influence your view of the new opportunity. Instead of telling yourself what won’t work, list the benefits that might happen.
We have all had bad bosses, but how do we know if our supervisor is really a bad one? Here are 8 warnings signs that your boss can’t do the job, along with ideas about what a great supervisor should look like.
1. Never Has Time for You. Is your supervisor “too busy” to meet, even when it is important, or does he or she cancel when a meeting has been scheduled? Good supervision means being responsive to supervisees—giving them the time they need to get information, understand assignments, and especially receive clear feedback.
2. Micromanages. Does your supervisor insist on checking every bit of your work? Does he or she over-control so much that you think, “why didn’t you just do this yourself?” The very best managers know how to empower subordinates to help them take on responsibility, show some initiative, and grow and learn on the job.
3. Is Untrustworthy. Are you afraid to be open and honest with your supervisor because he or she might use the information against you? Does your supervisor say one thing and do another? Good supervisor-supervisee relationships are built on trust.
4. Puts Me First, You Last. Does your supervisor spend all of his or her time on their own career, and show no interest in your advancement? The very best bosses take a genuine interest in their employees’ career growth and development. Truly great leaders are like good parents. They take pride in the accomplishments of those they supervise.
5. Can’t Manage the Workload. Is your boss incapable of handling his or her own supervisory workload? Are decisions and assignments always made late, or not at all? Great supervisors make sure that they can manage their own workload and also spend the time necessary to effectively manage and lead their direct reports.
6. Focuses Exclusively on the Negative. Is your boss always pointing out what you are doing wrong, and ignoring what you do correctly? Does every speech from your boss take a negative tone of “what’s wrong?” The best bosses focus primarily on the positive (and keep a motivating, positive attitude and outlook).
7. Thinks Punishment is Motivating. Are you always looking over your shoulder waiting for the boss to lower the boom? Punitive management is always a bad idea. It de-motivates people and gets them to focus on avoiding mistakes rather than getting good things done. And, punishment is a major, debilitating stressor for employees.
8. Can’t Communicate Clearly. Is it difficult to determine what your boss really wants? Do you find that your boss rarely listens to you? Effective communication is the key to good management. Giving clear directions and listening to subordinates are crucial to success at work.
There is an old saying that people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. While that may not always be the case, in many instances the supervisor is responsible for making the job a good one. Good managers make jobs interesting and rewarding, and they work hard to make their supervisees better.
This guest post provided by Dr. Ron Riggio.
Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D., is the Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College.
Do you have one of those hard-to-work-for bad bosses? OK, that’s too kind. Is your boss a jerk? Do you sometimes want to pull your hair out? Or even throw things after a talk with Mr./Mrs. Wonderful?
Bad bosses almost always lack emotional intelligence. They play favorites, gossip, and have private agendas not always in the best interest of the team. They can’t handle the fact that someone else on the team could be as smart/smarter and they do not like to be challenged.
Bosses who exhibit bad people skills or who fail at problem-solving do not deserve the title of “leader”. They might be the owner, founder, or boss, but Leader? No way.
If you have the misfortune of working for one of these people, you have a lot of work to do. Clients often ask me about managing this situation. Most call it “managing up” the organization. That’s an interesting concept, easier said than done. Here’s why.
You can’t make them change
A senior executive or a company owner who has a less than favorable management style is not likely to want to change. That a ‘Leopard can’t change its spots’ holds true for most of us in one respect or another. The Idiom from the Old Testament speaks to the fact that certain basic traits of a person can never change, just like the spots on a Leopard.
Fooling yourself into thinking you have an opportunity to change the basic traits of a bad boss could be a waste of valuable time. When your boss performs within a narrow band of acceptable behavior, but has frequent forays into unacceptable territory, thereby making the situation almost unbearable, you have some choices you need to consider.
Bad Bosses usually fail in several ways
Here are the most common ways I see bad bosses failing to be effective.
They create a low or no trust environment. Bad bosses have ways of killing the trust factor. They violate trust by telling others something you told them in confidence. Or they twist information shared in trust. And they often betray the trust by promising to one thing and then doing something else.
They strip empowerment. Any hopes of having a confident, empowered work team can be destroyed by a bad boss. Often these bad guys delegate a task, then immediately begin micromanaging the mission, thus gutting the sense of empowerment from the person given the assignment.
They have behaviors that violate moral standards. Bad bosses tend to be the ones caught abusing employees with emotional or even physical advances. I firmly believe that if you could uncover all the stories about the people being accused in the “me too” movement, you would find their overall behavior in the workplace is pretty poor; definitely not demonstrated leadership.
They violate ethical, and sometimes legal standards. Cutting corners to win deals or make a profit is often associated with poor management. Employees with higher ethical standards who find themselves working for bad bosses must make tough choices.
How do you deal with a Bad Boss?
When I am asked the question about managing up, I share these things.
You must choose to be the bigger person. What do I mean? You don’t have to confront the bad boss at every turn, but rather let whatever blowup comes from an encounter with them stay isolated. You cannot take your frustration down to your own team. Avoid the temptation to broadcast the idiocy of your boss’s behavior to your team. Instead, filter the message. If the boss gave you a task for your team, just deliver the particulars of the task. Do not get into the details of how bad it was to deal with the boss.
Be the Leader among your peers. The other direct reports who suffer at the hands of your boss need encouragement. You can gather with them offline to discuss the frustrations about the boss, but at the end of it all, you should be the one to say “Ok folks, this stays right here. Now let’s go do our jobs.”
Play within the boundaries. Your company should have its own set of policies and procedures for dealing with most employment situations. If the company is small though, and the founder is the bad boss, you might not have options per the policy. The point here is that you need to be without your own blemish in dealing with the situation. You should not violate some standard to create an opportunity to get back at the boss.
Lastly, and this one always gets people, you need to consider the option to leave. If it becomes crystal clear that the boss is perpetually bad, you may have no choice but to resign. Your reputation is at stake. In larger companies, you might ask for a reassignment. The options are limited for smaller companies.
The way out
By now you can tell I don’t believe in “managing up” an organization. It just doesn’t work. At least in my 30+ years in the workforce, I’ve never seen it accomplished. Bad bosses are part of our work life. If you’ve never had one, just wait. More importantly, if you stayed with this message this far, and you might be one of the bad bosses, take a moment to decide where you want to go with your responsibilities. Find an outside voice to review your style and approach, Get an independent opinion about your work. Maybe you have some blind spots that can be fixed.
Executive coaching can identify the areas where bad boss behaviors exist. With the right coaching, bad bosses can be rehabilitated, and, in some cases, even cured.
How is your intentionality? Try this exercise: close your eyes and count to 20 slowly. Stay focused on the count and don’t allow your subconscious to do the counting. Sounds easy, right? Now, do it again and start over every time you are distracted by another thought. That is much more challenging for most of us.
The Power of Adrenalin
How long can you go without checking your phone? Studies have shown that we get addicted to the jolt of adrenalin when we hear the text or email message notification. When I lead team building sessions or facilitate a meeting, the participants agree on whether to turn off or silence their phones. Some of them get the shakes – like they would if they had to give up coffee for a day. I find it hard not to check mine every time I stop at a red light, even if I’m enjoying the song on the radio.
40 Percent ROI
We have trained ourselves to expect distractions. We think we can’t function without them but what do they cost us? Research indicates that productivity can be reduced by as much as 40 percent when people switch tasks.
Stop whatever else you are doing and think about that. You could be 40 percent more effective if you focused on one thing for a defined period of time. Where else can you get that kind of ROI?
Identify one thing you will do differently. Be as specific as possible and avoid saying what you will not do. Write it down where you will see it often. It could be, “I will sit through five stop lights without checking my phone.”
Write down when you will start and how often you will do it. “I will start tomorrow and continue for the next week.”
Describe the benefit you will get from doing this. “I will be able to enjoy what I’m hearing on the radio.”
Find an accountability partner. “I will ask my coach to check in with me every Monday by 9:00 AM if I haven’t emailed her about my progress by Sunday at 5:00 PM.”
Recognize potential derailers. Notice what gets you off track and find a solution. “I’m likely to forget when I’m in a hurry so I will leave five minutes earlier for my meetings.”
Reward yourself. “I will add a new song to my favorite playlist when I achieve my goal for the week.”
I invite you to test this approach to improving your ROI and see how it affects your productivity.
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Cheryl Smith-Bryan, an ICF Certified Coach, and advisor. Cheryl has served as a board member of the Houston Chapter of the International Coach Federation, a committee chair for the Women’s Energy Network and a mentor for at-risk children. She has been quoted in local and national business publications and has made presentations to a number of industry and professional associations. Visit her blog HERE