On Mondays, many high school, college and professional football teams all get together in a dark room and do the same thing: They break down game film. It’s often not a pleasant session after a team has lost. Their performance is under a microscope. Many plays are paused, replayed again and again in slow motion. Actions are scrutinized at a hyper level.
Because comments like, “I dropped that pass coach, but I want you to know my intention was to catch the ball” or “I did miss three easy tackles, but my plan was to not miss any,” would not be met kindly, they’re seldom heard. Why? It’s what you DO that counts most.
People do not judge you by what you think or feel, only by what you say or do. While your intentions may be in earnest, it’s your impact that is evaluated most. Impact comes through action, action through behaviors.
The following are four leadership qualities that require specific action for higher effectiveness:
The Teaching & Mentoring Leader
- Determine motivations of top talent by asking them about their passions and professional goals and follow up to stay aligned.
- Take time to teach, explain and confirm that understanding has occurred, (because we all learn differently).
- Make certain that grooming future leaders is a non-negotiable calendar commitment.
The Responsive & Reliable Leader
- Live your word: Do what you say you’re going to do WHEN you say you’re going to do it, without excuses.
- Cultivate trust via prompt responsiveness and respect others through acknowledgement of their inquiries.
- Follow up with staff and colleagues to ensure alignment and healthy communication is a front-burning priority.
The Service-Focused Leader
- Make individual meetings a standard to customize your connections and build trust.
- Even in stress or work mode, demonstrate courteous actions to team members.
- Designate “what service will each of us focus on most?” in weekly meetings and get 30-second comments from each attendee.
The Recognizing & Rewarding Leader
- Evaluate effectiveness not just by numbers or business output, but by the impact of how team members connect with colleagues and clients.
- Determine what recognition looks like from person to person by asking what he or she is incentivized by.
- Don’t just think about the positive qualities of others. Take time to express specific appreciation to staff and clients.
If you are currently in a leadership position with people under you, how would your direct reports and team members say you measure up to these? How well does your boss demonstrate these with you?
The “thought-leader” becomes a better performer and contributor to organizational success, ultimately through proof of observable behaviors. That’s what success boils down to in anything we do, but it begins with giving yourself an honest assessment. Perhaps Peter Drucker said it best:
“Follow effective action with quiet reflection,” Drucker said. “From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”
Joe Takash is the president of Victory Consulting, a Chicago-based sales and leadership development firm and a keynote speaker for executive retreats, sales conferences and management meetings. Learn more at www.victoryconsulting.com
Art was 58 when he realized that his company might have passed him by. He had been with the same employer for 35 years. He still loved the business, enjoyed the young up-and-comers and genuinely respected his boss. Yet, he did not feel like as valuable of a contributor to his company as he was in years past, and it bothered him.
Finally, Art’s friend Peter asked him what bothered him most. Art replied, “The thought of being viewed as obsolete. It scares me from a career standpoint and hurts me personally. I don’t know how to say this to my boss.”
Peter’s response was spot-on — “You just said it, but I’m not your boss.”
Perhaps the deepest need in corporate America that even senior executives and CEOs experience on a regular basis is a toolbox for being productively confrontational. Most employees don’t know how to manage their boss and often work from a place of fear of resentment.
Many managers will not confront administrative assistants who are short and even rude to clients. Talk about underachievement! What does this do for individual performance, organizational results and professional reputations?
The following are important steps necessary for confronting others in a manner that creates stronger relationships and increased productivity:
Change the name and your attitude
Too many people look at difficult conversations as negative and counterproductive; hence, they avoid and dance around them as often as possible.
Instead of difficult conversation, use productive confrontation. The words you choose create the path you use. Knowing that the intended result is to help, not hurt, may make it easier to find the courage to step-up and approach others. Frame it appropriately.
Put it on paper
Before the meeting, prepare a bullet-point structure (not script!) in writing. Be sure that it allows you to communicate your viewpoint in a logical order that is easy to understand and follow for the other person.
Clarifying your points with concrete examples builds momentum and makes a stronger case for being heard with respect.
Be as clinical as possible
Whether you’re intimidated, angered, hurt or resentful, try to consider the impact of how both parties will feel and focus on how everyone can benefit. This will allow you to assume a third-party, objective perspective and maturely manage the confrontation.
Agree on a resolution
At the conclusion of the meeting, discuss what the next step should be for follow-up. This agreement serves as a strategic road map for a stronger working relationship going forward.
Art did approach his boss honestly with concerns and after his boss listened attentively, Art learned that he was not only valued more than he thought, but he was in line for a promotion. Remember, even bosses can’t fix what they can’t see.
Not all corporate stories have a fairy tale ending, but think of how many people wallow in negative emotions from holding back in confronting others. The key is to prepare, be confident and behave with courage.
Joe Takash is the president of Victory Consulting, a Chicago-based sales and leadership development firm. He is a keynote speaker for executive retreats, sales conferences and management meetings and has appeared in many national media outlets. His firm, Victory Consulting, coaches executive teams and individual leaders with a client list that includes American Express, MIT, Prudential and
Turner Construction. Learn more at
The biggest misconception in corporate America is the thinking that vulnerability and weakness are synonymous. They couldn’t be more opposite. If you don’t think so, think about the kind of managers
you want to work for and respond yes or no to the following:
- Has all the answers.
- Does not ask for suggestions on the ability to lead more effectively.
- Refuses to confront sensitive interpersonal issues.
- Frequently keeps office door shut with a sign on it that says, “Not Now!”
This last one may seem like a joke. It isn’t. At a particular organization, this is promptly displayed for all direct reports and those who pass by to see. Yikes.
To clarify, vulnerability in leadership is not reflected by managers who are quivering bowls of insecurity that freak out twice a day, questioning themselves out loud on every decision. Vulnerability is demonstrated by managers who have both the confidence and courage to make tough choices.
Yet, in the process of these choices, they are willing to reach out for help, because it’s in the best interest of the organization as well their continued development.
The following are five areas that demonstrate the strong, vulnerable leader. Do a quick self-assessment as to how you measure against these:
Ask the opinion of those lower in rank.
Many managers view their competencies as milestones they passed, no different than a child who has learned to crawl then walk. Why look back? Yet, the perspectives of those under you not only builds morale and makes team members feel valued, managers may learn a fresh perspective they never considered.
Be willing to apologize and admit fault.
No one wakes up and thinks, “I can’t wait to screw something up so I can make a public apology!” Yet, the well-managed ego of a leader knows that both trust and character is on the line when it comes this one.
Get feedback from direct reports.
This is a distinction as the strong, vulnerable leader proactively seeks specific areas to be more aware and effective. This willingness to be enlightened is paramount for modeling continuous improvement.
Ask customers to critique your service.
Verbal critiques are best here so dialogue is involved. We have a propensity to bristle when those not making or selling our products or services chirp up. But the perch from which they view our approach to service not only offers a different vantage point, but one that may increase future business and referrals based on the openness of that relationship.
Tell colleagues to hold you accountable.
Empowering a circle of trusted advisers, above and below you in rank, creates a positive environment, one that knows higher trust, support and stronger likelihood of better performance outcomes.
Which one of these qualities resonates with you most? If you immediately have a couple in mind, that’s a good sign. If you are willing to openly discuss these with those you work with, that’s a great sign. Stay vulnerable, my friends.
Joe Takash is the president of Victory Consulting, a Chicago-based sales and leadership development firm. Joe is a keynote speaker for executive retreats, sales conferences and management meetings and he has appeared in many national media outlets. His firm, Victory Consulting, coaches executive teams and individual leaders, helping them maximize strategic execution. Learn more at www.victoryconsulting.com.
According to Joe Takash, the president of Victory Consulting, it can be accomplished by following a technique used by the late former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden (1910-2010). Yes, that’s right. He lived to be 99 years old.
In his latest Smart Connection video, “Build morale in less than a second,” Takash describes how Wooden used his “Thank You Rule.”
The key to his success was threefold.
No. 1, he knew his trade extremely well.
No. 2, he knew discipline extremely well.
No. 3, and maybe most importantly, Wooden knew people and how to motivate them.
Joe Takash is the president of Victory Consulting, a Chicago-based executive and organizational development firm. He advises clients on leadership strategies and has helped executives prepare for $3 billion worth of sales presentations. He is a keynote speaker for executive retreats, sales meetings and management conferences and has appeared in numerous media outlets. Learn more at www.victoryconsulting.com.