Are Jerks Winners?

A headline from The Atlantic recently caught my eye, “Why It Pays to be a Jerk”. I have counseled “jerks” in my Executive Coaching practice from time to time — I am highly skeptical about the “payoff” for being a jerk. In a nutshell, the article focused on new “success” research suggesting to get ahead “put your feet up on the table, take the last doughnut, speak first and interrupt” offering “assholes” (his words not mine) like Steve Jobs and General Patton as success models.

What kind of message is this sending to the workplace? Ugh.

In one research experiment, individuals violating long-standing norms (invading personal space, claiming undo credit or taking the last cookie) were seen by viewers as someone they would see as a boss or worthy of being “put in charge” over those acting “normal.” Academics name this “prestige” factor – from cavemen days to today, we are more apt to follow leaders who think can provide what we need —build a better fire, kill game or fight off threats. In workplaces, we want a leader to get us what we need to succeed–resources and providing protection from threats (think competitive advantage or other senior leaders roadblocking your important project).

Back to the experiment– someone who helps the team gain resources is viewed positively even if (sadly) they behave like a jerk to get it. I must admit this resonates with some of my client experience–leaders often send messages to staff that its OK to be a jerk if doing so improves the bottom line. For example, take performance reviews–I see many that are contradictory around “jerk” behavior. An individual is reprimanded about behavior that upsets peers but applauded for their ability to drive projects forward.

Leaders need to be seen as capable of driving change and taking a position but never in a toxic way. There is a big difference. In my coaching practice, professionals seen as critical contributors are often “sent” to me for coaching and counseling about how to drive action without offending people. I am brought in to help them tone down their dysfunctional or problematic behaviors and learn skills in persuasion, conflict resolution and negotiating to get results but without offending everyone in the room.

C suite wannabes also need to monitor overdone people pleasing ways. Amy Schumer’s viral video of women constantly saying, “I’m sorry” is a wake up call for professional women.

How we behave in workplaces adds up to how we are perceived by others. Constantly accommodating, acquiescing and deferring can negatively impact whether or not people will want you as their leader just like acting like a jerk can.

My take on the “Be a jerk” headline-context matters greatly. There are times when taking a difficult stand, interrupting a droning peer (you may get applause for this act) or making a tough decision like laying off the office problem person (even if they are a star performer) is the right answer.   But how you do it is critical–these leadership challenges are the crux of many of my coaching conversations.

Watch how your behaviors impact peers–seek feedback and get a 360 review if you haven’t had one done. The one I use with clients is 100% confidential and is designed for leadership development. My clients regularly walk away from my 360 review sessions with vital new feedback that helps them become more successful leaders. If you are a leader or manager seeking to improve or move upward–you simply can’t afford not to know how co-workers, reports and superiors perceive you.

One final thought –jerk behaviors viewed as offensive, abusive or toxic will lead you only one place—out the door.

Lessons From Pete Carroll After Loss

It’s far easier to lead when everything is coming up roses and exceptionally hard, even painful when the chips are down.

For fans of the Seahawks, their loss was a bitter pill to swallow. But those of us in leadership can learn a lot from how Pete Carroll handled his crisis.

Most of you already know I am a big Pete Carroll fan. He continues to model great lessons for workplace leaders –the most important of all is how he practices what he preaches.

I admire the way he took responsibility for the loss and continues to hold his head up in the spotlight. Many of his players have followed suit and what you don’t see is a lot of finger pointing and blame among the team.  They protect each other.

Here are a few team workplace lessons from our loss.

• Pete Carroll always talks in “we.” He remains consistently focused on a “team” mentality. In business I often see teams break apart in bad times due to pointing fingers, placing blame and politicking for personal agendas. Keep the we in team, not the I.

• Respond thoughtfully vs. react during bad times. Workplace teams like football teams can fumble. What happens after is critical. Do we fall apart? Blame? Resent? Leave? Or do we get stronger and grow from what we learn? Workplace teams should build post postmortems or debriefs following product or project wins and losses. Ask, how can we get better going forward?

• Don’t pass the buck. Take responsibility for mistakes and be accountable for your actions. This is critical to earn (and keep) trust and respect.

• Be authentic and candid with your team –they are adults, they can handle it. Pete Carroll’s practice after a loss is to gather his team together and “tell the truth.” Teams can grow from truth–they don’t grow from avoidance. Wise leaders don’t attempt to deny reality when it comes to the emotions of their staff. No one checks their feelings at the door when entering into work. Its when feelings go underground that they cause damage to us and to teams. Acknowledging and allowing people to appropriately voice their emotions is important.

• Its OK to be vulnerable. Pete Carroll admitted in an interview he “feels responsible for a lot of people right now.” This makes him human. We can feel grace for his situation by his authenticity.

• Look forward positively. Pete Carroll assures fans the Superbowl last play call isn’t going to define his championship team going forward. I hope you won’t let mistakes define your team either. Failures are part of business life. Teams that value teamwork and protection for each other will stand the test of time and keep getting stronger.

The Seahawks are a championship team with an extraordinary leader that I appreciate for modeling these lessons.

I am here to help with your growth. I continue to offer one on one executive/leadership coaching and training/workshops and facilitation for your teams and staff.  All referrals are greatly appreciated!
Maureen Moriarty
425 736 5691 (cell)

maureen@pathtochange.com

Leaders- Caution! Choose Change Chits Wisely

If you are a workplace leader or manager, change is part of the job.  How you manage change with your staff matters to the leadership success equation.

What do staff expect from their leaders?  Research claims primarily – order, direction and protection.  Staff wants leaders to maintain fair and consistent norms. Yet effective leadership often means changing norms and even mandating change to meet objectives.  This can be a paradox and clearly a challenge for leaders.

I regularly coach leaders with their day to day “people” challenges – helping them manage change is a part of my daily coaching conversations.

Tips from the Coach:

  • Too much change is bad.  People do not have an infinite capacity to absorb change.  Choose your change chits wisely, strategically and frugally.  We mere humans have a finite amount of energy chits each day.  What do you want staff to spend their precious time and energy on?  If you are going to create a policy or process change—make sure its relevant and worthy of the challenges creating it may cause.
  • Don’t hold onto the past or deny inevitable change.  If the company change train has left the station without you on it—you keeping staff stuck.  Staff watches the boss to see how the boss responds or “reacts” to change.
  • Deal with problems!  Complaints regarding the boss avoiding problems and not dealing with them effectively–is the #1 complaint I hear from staff.  Staff count on the boss to resolve conflict and take care of obstacles to success.
  • Don’t put your direct report in the uncomfortable position of having to fend for themselves when it comes to answering unreasonable demands from your peers or theirs.  It’s a boss’s role to deal with problematic obstacles and challenges that impede staff success.
  • Don’t add to the drama factor.  Regulate your emotional reactivity to bad news.  If the boss gets upset, so does staff.  No one can spread the negative emotional “flu” virus like a boss!

Help is available for the people challenges of leadership—invest in yourself this year with leadership development.  Contact me:  360 682 5807 or info@pathtochange.com

 

 

 

Your EQ is Key to Career Success!

Research has powerfully proven that if you are a professional, particularly one in a leadership role (or want to be promoted into one), your emotional intelligence (EQ) capacities can make or break you. What matters is how others (staff, colleagues, key stakeholders/clients and other senior leaders) perceive your EQ abilities like self-awareness, emotional reactivity, adaptability and interpersonal communication in difficult or stressful situations.

In my many years of executive coaching experience I have met few leaders who really know how others truly perceive them. Staff is often reluctant to give leaders with hire/fire authority tough feedback. Additionally, few leaders have been given a confidential 360-feedback review. Sadly, leaders with the greatest EQ challenges are frequently those who have the greatest blind spots. Some find out after it’s too late.

Your EQ is essentially hard wired into the brain in early childhood. Its what helps or hinders you in being interpersonally effective in challenging, stressful or conflict workplace scenarios. If you are a leader you simply can’t afford not to pay attention to growing your skills in this arena. If others don’t trust you or you fail to persuade with your communication style you won’t last long in a leadership role.

EQ Career tip #1. Take my EQ assessment and find out your EQ strengths and challenges. I thoroughly researched the most popular EQ tools/tests available and have great faith in the profile that I have used successfully with hundreds of clients. I am offering 10% off through Feb 29th on this popular, practical and reliable tool.

EQ Career tip #2. Ask those around you to share impact/feedback with you. Don’t make assumptions about how others perceive you.

The good news is that EQ can be improved!! EQ is my coaching sweet spot. I know the formula to help you improve what matters most to your career success. It starts with a phone call—invest in yourself and call or email me today!

Call me to discuss: 425 736 5691(cell) or 360 682 5807 (office)
or email: pinelakemo@comcast.net

Referrals are greatly appreciated!! Please pass my practical tips on to any others you think would benefit.

Coaching as a Leadership Style

Many organizations today have identified “coaching” as a preferred leadership style for their management workforce. Coaching is a powerful organizational and leadership strategy to systemically improve business performance. One survey from the Institute of Personnel and Development confirms that 9 out of ten U.S. companies expect their managers and supervisors to deliver coaching to their direct reports and teams. Employee surveys support the need for managers to develop coaching skills as “best bosses” are those identified as having a coaching style.

So what is coaching? Coaching is a collaborative partnership centered on achieving goals. The primary objective of coaching is to develop the person being coached. In a nutshell, it is a way of leading that supports, champions, guides and challenges an individual to maximize their potential and performance. Coaching can be applied to a wide variety of management situations—identifying strengths and challenges, motivating, delegating, relationship/team building, providing feedback, resolving every day workplace challenges, helping employees become more self aware and change problematic behaviors or seize opportunities to grow and improve.

There are key differences between the old style autocratic or “boss” way of managing people and coaching. Whereas the old school boss tended to get things done by lecturing, directing and telling, today’s boss who acts as a “coach” asks powerful questions, makes effective requests, listens/observes well, is perceptive and offers constructive effective feedback to help someone learn and develop.

The best leaders in workplaces have learned how to empower and motivate their people vs. try to control them. One reason– today’s younger workforce (comprised of Gen Y/Millenials) is quite different than past generations (vets and baby boomers). They have different expectations of their leaders and workplaces. Generally, to motivate today’s younger worker requires more personal attention, recognition and tolerance on the part of management.

The great challenge for many organizations is how to train their managers to utilize coaching skills. People aren’t born with innate coaching skills and frankly few business schools are focused on teaching the skills required to be an effective coach.

Coaching techniques and competencies are very different than those required of more “old style” management and supervision. As a result, many of today’s older managers are challenged having to “unlearn” past lessons and techniques that are no longer effective in today’s workplace.

Simply asking your managers to “coach” employees won’t equate to success. Learning how to coach is akin to learning a new language. There is an art to coaching. To develop someone’s ability to coach requires an investment in training/coaching to master new behaviors. Developing expertise (as with most skills) will almost always require ongoing feedback and modeling by someone with more advanced skills. One of the best ways to develop coaches is to have the up-and-coming coach be coached by a professional coach with exemplary coaching skills.

Coaching is a relationship centered on helping the “coachee” realize their aspirations and goals. Trust, respect and rapport are critical foundations to a solid coaching relationship. Frankly, some managers have great challenges in the interpersonal and emotional intelligence arena. Though it is possible to learn behaviors that lead to increased trust—this endeavor isn’t easy (the best results typically come when a professional coach who specializes in this arena is brought in).

When leaders are trusted and respected, employees under them will respond to their feedback more effectively. The best coaches are patient, perceptive, self aware, reflective, open, supportive, keen observers and good listeners. They are adept at giving valuable feedback that doesn’t generate defensiveness and are interpersonally effective. They help their employees by uncovering their blind spots and challenging limiting beliefs. Most of effective coaching this takes place through observation, assessment, dialogue, inquiry and conversations.

Tips to develop a coaching style:

  • Listen and observe well. Note how someone learns best (see previous column on learning styles) and what their strengths are.
  • Delegate more and direct less (once you have assessed the employee has the skills required to do the task and has the necessary commitment). Always make clear what the parameters are when delegating (i.e. time, budget and other resources).
  • Use errors as learning opportunities.
  • Help your people learn to solve problems themselves vs. doing it for them.

Lastly, bring in coaching training for your employees.  My own coach training modules is one of my most popular trainings.  Invest in your managers today by calling me:  360 682 5807.