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Leadership Optimization

For your Company’s Leaders Today

Author: Ashley

Let go now: The Power of a Non-Virtual Experience, aka ’Put the Electronics Down’

Let go now: The Power of a Non-Virtual Experience, aka ’Put the Electronics Down’

When is the last time you went an hour without any electronics? Not counting the obvious (sleeping, driving, etc) – that you SHOULDN’T be texting… Could you do it for a day?

If you cannot, you’re not alone. Nearly 50% of All Americans say they can’t go without their cell phone, and that includes people that don’t even have them, like small kids, older adults, or people that realize there’s more to life than a phone!. There is now new words in the dictionary – like “phubbing” (basically snubbing someone by being on your phone, instead of talking to them) and the emergence of cell phone addictions – as well as ways to fix those addictions.

We are losing touch with touch itself! As a leader or a manager – how often do you use IM (instant messenger) or an email to say what you just don’t (or can’t) say? As an employee – how often do you “project” yourself by firing off an email to a co-worker instead of having a face to face (or Zoom to Zoom)?

This month – When you get ready to open your phone – I challenge you to 3 questions by Kevin Roose, New York Times columnist. If you can’t CLEARLY articulate an answer, then I challenge you to PUT the phone down and make a tally of every time you chose yourself, your team, family, friends – your Non-Virtual Experience – over the latest Twitter feed, email update, or FB trend.

What for?
Why now?
What else?

You may just learn something.

You may just see something you haven’t seen before (and wouldn’t if you were looking down).

And before you know it, you may just be a bit happier & a bit less stressed.

Try it.

Other links:

Turning Leadership Challenges into Questions … and lose Control

Turning Leadership Challenges into Questions … and lose Control

Lose Control? Should you want to do that as a leader? Should you ever just “let go” of the reigns, and give control to the people? Won’t they just run amok and act out scenes from the Caine Mutiny if that’s the case?

I had the benefit of listening to Dr. George Kohlrieser, organizational and clinical psychologist and Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Switzerland and former hostage negotiator, in the last week. He recounted a variety of stories that talked to working through challenges in the most daring of situations and a few things stuck out for me.

He talked about working with a kidnapper in a hostage situation that was very particular about his needs and refused to listen to anyone. Dr. Kohlreiser began asking him a series of questions – do you want to stay on the floor you are on to talk with others around, or go to another floor? Would you like to use the phone or a video camera to call? He continued to ask questions of the kidnapper, even to the point where he knew he would be arrested, “Would you like to be handcuffed in the front or the back?” and “Do you want someone to walk you out, or do you want to do it on your own”?

Even under these terms (and I’m leaving out some for brevity!), knowing the kidnapper had done egregious things, Dr. Kohlreiser gave him control of the situation, or perceived control. Did Dr. K really care which way the handcuffs sat? No, he just wanted them on the kidnapper. However, in giving the kidnapper the questions, the power, and the perceived control – he built trust with him, a rapport – and empowered the kidnapper to answer the questions, and go willingly with what Dr. K wanted him to do.

How does this apply to your leadership? Next time you have a challenge on your hands – or you don’t know how to answer someone asking how to move forward on a situation or project – ASK QUESTIONS. Give them the POWER OF CHOICE. The questions don’t have to be hard, or particularly impactful – but by allowing them to control their own direction, you will help them move closer to the course you’ve charted for you both.

The Caine Mutiny: A Novel of World War II

Additional information: Dr. George Kohlrieser created and directs the International Institute for Management Development (IMD)’s flagship High Performance Leadership (HPL) program. He is also the author of the award-winning bestseller Hostage at The Table: How Leaders Can Overcome Conflict, Influence Others and Raise Performance and Care to Dare: Unleashing Astonishing Potential Through Secure Base Leadership. George has been a guest on the BBC, CNN, ABC and CBS, and his work has been featured in the WSJ, the NYT, and the Economist.

Hold the Flashlight – Showing the (simple) spectrum of leadership

Hold the Flashlight – Showing the (simple) spectrum of leadership

Open up any business book or magazine and you’ll find it. Elusiveness is its main descriptor for those that are trying to succeed in it consistently. And anyone good in business has definitely done it wrong because you just can’t get them all right, all the time.

It’s the Simple Spectrum of Leadership

Leadership is the art of influencing another person. It doesn’t mean that you actually are the boss or manager, but means that you have the ability to influence another person to do what you want (whether or not they wanted to do it in the first place is somewhat irrelevant). The reason that leading is hard is because of the spectrum of leadership – the fact that every person is different- with different goals, focuses, experiences and motivations. You being the manager of me would require a different style to be successful than me being the manager of you. We have different personalities, places in life and desires.

So How Do We Navigate the Spectrum?

Over upcoming articles, we’ll explore some of the key elements that will not tell you how to “do leadership” (although many out there try to say it’s just following step 1-2-3) but it will give you ideas on how to approach best courses of action based on certain criteria (such as your personality, the others’ personalities, motivations, goals, projects, etc).

Today, It’s About Holding the Flashlight

When I was an Ensign in the Navy, a brand-new officer who barely knew how to put on my rank correctly, I was assigned to be the Gunnery Officer on a destroyer. I was (on paper) in charge of the 5” gun on the front of the ship. (Side note – do not let the 5” mislead you into thinking it’s a small weapon; it is quite large, shoots very large bullets and makes a whole lot of noise!). I did not know how to fix the gun. Heck, I didn’t even know how to operate the gun. That’s what my Gunner’s Mates and Fire Controlman did.

One night, right before a major gun shoot exercise – the gun went down. Hard. It was a major inspection and we had to get it going. So, it was all hands on deck. Everyone worked through the night to get the gun repaired. But… although I was the one in charge, I could do nothing. I literally had no ability to fix that gun. So – I could have gone to bed. It would be great to have the Gunnery Officer well rested before the precision gun shoot in the morning. Maybe it’s what I should have done.

But I didn’t.

Instead, I went to where my sailors were, and stood there. I held the flashlight as they needed it…as they troubleshooted and fixed various parts of the gun. I talked to them when they got tired, listened to their stories, listened as they bantered back and forth. At the time, I didn’t realize that my presence there did anything – I didn’t do anything. I just held the flashlight.

But in the morning, when the gun was fixed, and the Gun Shoot & Inspection went off as planned, my senior enlisted Chief Petty Officer came to me and told me how much I did for my team, and how my being there helped make that day a success. Shocked, I asked the question – “What did I do?”. He said that I led by example. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t fix the gun or find the right tool. It matter that my team, my sailors, knew I was there for them. And would back them up. That meant much more than just fixing the problem.

So…. I challenge you. How do you “hold the flashlight” for your team? Where do they need to know that you’re just there… supporting them … even if it’s from the background?

Pulling the andon: How to have a 1 on 1 …… The 5 steps to success – whether you’re the boss or not

Pulling the andon: How to have a 1 on 1 …… The 5 steps to success – whether you’re the boss or not

How do I have a solid, productive 1×1 (one on one – typically a meeting between a leader and his/her employee)?

What does a good 1×1 looks like?

How do I have a good 1×1 with my boss even though it’s obvious they don’t know how to have a productive one?

In the last few weeks, I have been asked by different people – both managers and employees – enough times that I took a moment to step back. In the operations world, after recognizing an error in a system, an “andon”, or an alert to notify of a problem in the system, is pulled. It’s a way to go “all stop” when something that is important to the department’s function isn’t working. The system is stopped until the problem has been fixed.

It’s time to pull the andon. 1×1’s are vital to individual success à therefore … they are even more so to the department and organization.

Why have a 1×1?

  1. It’s communication, stupid – How do you know if you don’t ask and they don’t tell you?
  2. Get on the same page – It is guaranteed you aren’t – you’re not the same person; you have different perspectives. You must continuously ask/ tell to bridge those gaps.
  3. Never be surprised – What’s the status of the 3 goals that were assigned 3 months ago? Don’t be surprised – use the 1×1’s to talk about development and roadblocks.
  4. You have no idea how far you can go – In this case, the “you” is plural. You and he/she do not know how much can be done unless you talk through objectives, issues, problems. Your job is not static.
  5. Get to know them – Last, but certainly not least. Connections will get you everywhere. Find something that you and he/ she have in common. Learn about what they enjoy – family, hobbies, work.

Leaders: How do you effectively run a 1×1?

  1. Have a plan – This should be agreed on.. they should know what to expect. Create 3-5 bullet items that you will cover. Questions to ask: What do you struggle with? Can you elaborate further?
  2. Stick to it – Once you set the agenda, do as you say – don’t move around a lot – your employee expects that. You can be flexible once your topics have been discussed but don’t go down a rabbit hole unless you believe it will get back to one of the reasons you’re having the 1×1. This manages expectations – not to mention, your very limited time.
  3. Shut up and listen. Build Trust. – Unless you have a photographic memory, take notes. You’ll want something to revisit during the next 1×1. Did they work on what they said they would? Did you? Ask the question, “To make sure I understand, you are (working on/ struggling with) XYZ?”
  4. Don’t talk about work – The 1×1 is not a time to get a report out or an update from the employee. The 1×1 is ABOUT them. If they decide they want to bring up a specific project as it relates to your agreed upon plan, allow it to happen… be ok to be candid with them if they are going off topic – especially if you’re on a time limit (and you are!)
  5. Stick to the time limit – Respect their time – and yours. If it’s 30 mins – don’t go over. If you need more time, discuss WHY you need more time – is a 1×1 the best format for the additional need? Or would an email or a discussion with another individual on a specific topic more beneficial? Close with a solid “I look forward to seeing XYZ from you by tomorrow” or “I appreciate you telling me ABC, and will get back to you by Friday”

How do you lead the 1×1 – if you’re not the leader?

  1. Have a plan … but be flexible – your boss should have an agenda. If he/she doesn’t – be ok to listen to points beyond what you want to discuss. One of them could relate to a goal that you want to focus on later… you just have to be patient and wait a little.
  2. See it from the boss’ point of view – Do you know what other objectives or goals is in front of him/ her – what’s on their priority list? What’s important right now to his/ her boss?
  3. Talk…. And listen – What’s being said? What’s NOT being said? Look beyond what he/she is saying. How is it being said? What is the reaction to what you’re saying? Be able to recognize different in emotions & moods – you may not want to bring up a certain point if you can recognize your boss doesn’t have the mindset to listen because he/she is overwhelmed that day.
  4. Focus – This 1×1 has a timeline. Stick to the plan. Don’t feel you’re supposed to be proving yourself through the 1×1. It’s about your development, your career, your path to your goals. Stay on it.
  5. Follow up – Whatever is discussed – take notes. Keep up with them… send a f/u email to your manager – “this is what we talked about… this is what I will be working on… this is what you said you would do/ help with…” – and date. This is a record and tracker – to keep you both honest!

1×1’s are a powerful tool to bridge the gap between manager and employee. It’s an ongoing process, and both sides should continue working on it to get the best results.

Discussion: What has worked for you? What hasn’t?

Nightmare Teams: Four ways to prevent your department from being the next Game of Thrones

Nightmare Teams: Four ways to prevent your department from being the next Game of Thrones

In a discussion with my leadership class this semester, a topic of “Nightmare Teams” emerged, and faster than a Targaryen dragon looking for his next meal, a list of terrible team members emerged:

How many of these have you seen on your team? By identifying these characters on your team, you can start to understand the best methods for bringing them back in the direction you’ve set:

  • Egotist – Arrogant – believes he/she is the smartest person in the group and is open with that opinion, closed to other perspectives – disrespectful
  • Polarizer – actions or behaviors create factions or divisions among team members – social destructor
  • Soloist – constantly jockeying for center stage, self-centered – takes full credit for team success but no responsibility for failure, displays a ‘better alone than together’ attitude
  • Pyromaniac – starts fires (problems) so that he/she can put them out (solve)
  • Saboteur – disingenuous, disloyal, untrustworthy – disrupter who works against the team’s success
  • Free-rider – team hitchhiker, not here to contribute, just along for the ride
  • Undertaker – gets results but leaves behind lots of collateral damage in the process
  • Ostrich – low tolerance to stress or ambiguity – buries head in the sand at the first sign of trouble (propensity to duck and run)
  • Distractor – personified speedbump – chronically disrupts progress with unfounded or pointless sidetracks – counterproductive obstacle (roadblock)
  • Catfish – morally or ethically compromised – actions reflect/discredits the integrity of the whole team

What happens if you experience multiples of these – at the same time. Here are 4 specific actions to attack your nightmare dragons now:

  1. Communication – this is the #1 reason, time and again, that people turn into a version of Cersei, or your own nightmare. How well do you know your own communication style? How well do you know others? Do they match?
  2. Delegation – is there a chance that your employees don’t have enough to do – or don’t feel they have the recognition they deserve? How well are you able to give them the things they need to feel empowered & part of the group?
  3. Conflict – will happen. Actually – conflict is good – it means that you’re challenging yourself, and the status quo. However, with your team members, and left unchecked, it can become worse than a night with the Night King, and a place you wish you had another place to run. What is your primary conflict style? How do you best manage the situation? Find out here.
  4. Motivation – The root of every person. It’s why we do what we do – and it can go well beyond Maslow’s pyramid. Do you know what motivates your team – or on the flipside – what doesn’t motivate them? How do you harness their motivation to move in the same direction – instead of the opposite?

Note: Special thanks to @Arnold Kaluza & @Rob Saunders who created the original discussion on this topics!! If you want to join us in future projects, please Like and send a PM.

Want more? Learn how to slay all these dragons with Leadership 9 Box skills within 1 month

Born or made: Three areas of leadership you don’t have

Born or made: Three areas of leadership you don’t have

Summary: Learn 3 areas of leadership that you are probably not aware of and should improve

Where are you challenged, personally, as a leader? Do you (accurately) know the areas that you can improve on as a leader?

Good leaders recognize there is always room for improvement, and learning skills is a key part. They know they are not infallible and should continue learning to improve their breadth of experiences. To admit you are still learning is not a fault – it’s a desirable trait that strong, confident leaders such as Bill Gates and many other CEO’s admit freely.

So… if we all agree that we should learn as leaders – how do you do it?

In school? Perhaps … but at best, you can only be taught leadership – you can’t learn or absorb it that way. You have to experience it. There’s no feedback loop – until you practice it.

In OJT – on the job training? Yes – this can be done – if you have the time, and the other individual training you have the experience to develop those skills you need.

In online training? If you don’t have time, this is the fastest and most flexible track to boost only the leadership skills you need to improve on the job. This is a short circuit way to download information quickly.

Or do you? Do you know what areas your leadership abilities are the strongest – or they areas that need work? How do you know you really know it?

Henry Mintzberg developed 3 areas of leadership that many people overlook:

  • Administrative – the ability to lead through management of tasks and duties
  • Interpersonal – the ability to lead through interacting with others
  • Conceptual – the ability to lead through vision and insight
Managerial Roles: Interpersonal, Decisional, Informational. Ashley Prisant
Managerial Roles: Interpersonal, Decisional, Informational. Ashley Prisant

In general, many leaders overlook their skills in these areas because they see their skills as a whole – or believe that leaders are made – and you’re built with the skills you have. Or.. they feel they have been “trained” without demonstrating their abilities. Perhaps it’s to themselves as leaders or others, and they falsely believe they have leadership skills they don’t. They end up falling grossly short – resulting in missed goals, missed opportunities, and failing employees.

Ok… so this is great in theory (literally) – but how do you practice? How do you – or your managers – know – you understand these concepts?

  • Developing your skills is an ongoing process. You can do it on your own time – but the importance is getting it done. Leadership 9 Box helps develop your skills AND give you the feedback in the most important leadership skills – such as conflict management, motivation, innovation, communication and delegation. You get immediate feedback and are guaranteed to improve your skills because you build on the experiences you have, with the knowledge you build.
  • Get a mentor – or 2. Reach out and get feedback on the skills you need to develop – and listen. Feedback is the best form of flattery. Good leaders value feedback as a way to learn and improve – both themselves and their team.
  • This week – aim to get feedback from 3 different sources about a specific leadership skill (such as communication, delegation or conflict) and reflect on their differences or similarities. How can you build on what you’ve learned?

Get exclusive pre-release access to our upcoming Leadership 9 Box online leadership and training – create your FREE account in the next week and get 3 free leadership assessments and access to 3 courses, activities & discussions with Leadership SME’s (subject matter experts)

Published on LinkedIn

Leadership 9 Box: Quick-start Guide

Leadership 9 Box: Quick-start Guide

Summary:


How is Leadership 9 Box set up?

There are a total of 4 sections in each module, with a total of 9 Modules (9 boxes, 9 modules!).

Each section contains the following:

  • A short 10-question survey to understand your current skills as a leader. You can choose to give this to your manager/ peers for a 360 review.
  • Goals/objectives of the section to clearly state the purpose. If it is not a section you need, simply move on to the next one!

A section can take between 15 minutes to 1 hour to complete. Some will find it will take them longer to master the content and will choose to go back to the section.

Leadership 9 Box

Conceptual

G. Tactical Operations

H. Business Acumen

I.
Innovation Leadership

Conceptual

Interpersonal

D. Communication

E. Strength & Motivation

F. Leader & Conflict

Interpersonal

Administrative

A. Time Management

B. People Management

C. Delegation & Organization

Administrative

Level of Primary Influence ——>

Individual

Group

Organization


How should I get started?

Getting started is easy! Follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the course catalog
  2. Choose the course(s) that interests you and challenges your leadership skills! Register for the first section. For example, if you wanted to improve your communications skills, you would register for D: Communications for Leaders
    • Note: You will have two options for each course:
      1. Course only – You will have access to the 4 e-learning sections of the module & pre/ post assessments
      2. Course + SME Access – In addition to access to the 4 e-learning sections of the module and pre/post assessments, you will also have access to all activities & discussion. You will have the opportunity to review & turn in activities to a Leadership SME who will evaluate and give tailored feedback. Upon completion of the module, you will get a L9B Certification for the module, which can be immediately posted on LinkedIn as an official LinkedIn certification.
  3. Take the assessment. Each Section 1 of a module (A1, B1, C1, etc.) has a short 10-question assessment aimed to help you self-identify your current abilities of the topic. Be honest. There are no right or wrong answers. You will get a score at the end.Note: A score of 50 does NOT mean failing (this is NOT a college course, after all) – but it shows your areas of strength and opportunity.
  4. Take the course. Review each section. Learn the material and read the additional information.
  5. Complete the activities. Each section has 2-5 activities aimed at building SPECIFIC skill strengths. Some may require you to talk to others at work, to reflect on a specific time, or to do specific activities.
  6. Turn in the activities. Once you are done with each activity, turn it in via the Activity portal in the section. If you have the Leadership Influence or Elevate (silver or gold) plan, a Leadership 9 Box SME will give you feedback within 48 hours.Note: Leadership SME’s will evaluate your material based on content and how well you completed the assignment. The scores range from 1-5: 
    Score Description
    1 Well done, above average understanding of the activity.
    2 Good job, the leader understands the activity, but could work on specific areas if desired.
    3 Good, but not enough to pass – the leader has some understanding of the material, but may be short on content, or missing a key component.
    4 Fair, not pass – the leader may have some understanding of the material, but is missing large parts of the content or several components.
    5 No pass – the leader has not shown understanding of the material, and is missing large if not all parts of the content and many components of understanding.
    Note If you get a 3, 4, or 5, the SME will give specific instruction on what was missing and what is needed to pass.
  7. Join the discussion! Each section has a discussion board – aimed at sharing specific topics relevant to the discussion. Share your viewpoints and experiences, and give feedback to others
  8. Get your certificate! For each section you complete, you get a certificate automatically added to your Profile. You will be given a choice to:
    • Download the certificate
    • Share certificate on LinkedIn (you will need to login to your account using the credentials of your profile)

What if I have questions that aren’t answered here? What if something is incorrect? How do I give feedback?

Leadership 9 Box, Questions and Feedback on TalentLMS, Steps 1-7
Leadership 9 Box, Questions and Feedback on TalentLMS, Steps 1-7

All you need to do is send a message to the L9B team using the L9B Portal. Follow the steps outlined below:

  1. Sign in to your Leadership 9 Box (L9B) account and point to Messages on the top navigation bar.
  2. On the drop-down list, click Send message.
  3. Click the Recipients field to choose who receives your message from the drop-down list.Note: Select the group that best answers your questions:
    1. System administrators – for LMS Platform issues, courses incorrectly loading, general feedback https://www.squarepegsolutions.org/shop-courses-online/
    2. Course instructors – if you have specific questions about a specific course, feedback on the course, or question on the evaluation that goes beyond one activity
  4. Type a Subject for your message.
  5. In the Body text area, type your message.
  6. If needed, you can also add images or attach external files to your message.
  7. Click Send message.
Leadership 9 Box

Leadership 9 Box

What is Leadership 9 Box?

Leadership 9 Box (L9B) takes a hybrid approach to building your leadership skills both online and through a customized approach with real, live subject matter experts chosen for your specific development. You will find Leadership 9 Box will focus on strengthening your core of conceptual, interpersonal, and administrative skills as based on Henry Mintzberg’s management theory.

A leader must have some level of competence in all 3 areas to remain successful, and yet, many leaders continue to fall behind because they have not received, learned, or understood the basics on the skills of leadership.

You determine the pace of your journey, and Leadership 9 Box is here to provide you with the tools and expertise you need to take both your career and your personal development to its highest.

You have the flexibility to alter your subscription plan at any time, whether that is asking for more insight or to scale back. We want you to be successful and can help advise which tier works best for your needs. We can’t wait to join you.

 

Leadership 9 Box

Conceptual

G. Tactical Operations

H. Business Acumen

I.
Innovation Leadership

Conceptual

Interpersonal

D. Communication

E. Strength & Motivation

F. Leader & Conflict

Interpersonal

Administrative

A. Time Management

B. People Management

C. Delegation & Organization

Administrative

Level of Primary Influence ——>

Individual

Group

Organization

Why Leadership 9 Box?

Whereas many other leadership programs deliver great content, few have a built-in feedback loop* designed to guarantee** that the material learned is not only learned¸ but the leader also has the ability to immediately apply the skills.

  • Feedback loop – Ever been to a class where you passed just by sitting there? How much did you actually learn? With the L9B course – you will get a real-time evaluation from experts in their field – so you will know how well you can use specific leadership skills.
  • Guaranteed skills – Every leader that has used the techniques in this course has improved their leadership skills. Some say they are better equipped to handle difficult situations or can communicate better. Others say they have up to an hour back in their day (nearly 15% improvements).  L9B is not for everyone, and the leader must be willing to learn new ways beyond their normal areas they typically operate.

What level of Leadership 9 Box is for me?

Three subscription levels of L9B empower you to choose what works best for you:

  1.          Leadership Impact (LI) Bronze Level – You will be able to take part in all sections, modules. You will be able to do all of the activities and join the discussion

  2.   Leadership Influence (LIN) Silver Level – In addition to Leadership Impact (Bronze), you will also be able to take part in all of the activities. Once you complete the activities, you will have a highly experienced leadership SME (subject matter expert) focusing on your answers and evaluating them for leadership effectiveness, understanding the content, and the ability to apply it in a real-time leadership situation.             

    • Upon completion of all activities and discussion in a module, you will receive a Certificate of Completion that you will be able to share with your own leadership team, post on your LinkedIn profile and in your office to confirm your higher level skills as a leader in those areas.

    • Certificates will be given for each module, each course area (Conceptual, Interpersonal, Administrative) and overall “Certified 9 Box Leader.” You have the ability to post this certification on your LinkedIn profile to show others your leadership abilities. 

  3.           Leadership Elevate© (LE) Gold Level– The highest level of opportunity for a leader in Leadership 9Box. You will receive everything in the previous two levels as well as up to two hours of one-on-one training with a highly experienced leadership SME.

    • These sessions can be focused on specific subject areas, or developed and tailored around your specific leadership career needs.

 

How does Leadership 9 Box work?

There are four sections in each module, with a total of 9 Modules (9 boxes, 9 modules!), provides:

  •           A short 10-question survey to understand your current skills as a leader. You can choose to give this to your manager/ peers for a 360 review.
  •           Goals/ objectives of the section to clearly state the purpose. If it is not a section you need, you can move on to the next one.

The section will take between 15 minutes to an hour to complete. Some will find it will take them longer to master the content and will choose to go back to section. Once you purchase, at any level, you will be able to visit all sections as many times as you wish.

Once you are in the section, you will find three main parts:

  • Part 1- Instruction – 15-30 minute information on section topic
  • Part 2 – Discussion – on various topics on the section topic
  •  Part 3 – Activities – to confirm knowledge of the section topic

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Leader’s dilemmas: How to turn Rock Stars into Super Stars…or let them go

Leader’s dilemmas: How to turn Rock Stars into Super Stars…or let them go

by Ashley Prisant Lesko, Business Executive

Leader’s dilemmas: How to turn Rock Stars into Super Stars – or “promote” them to customer

Summary: It takes a STRONG leader to fix a Rock Star on their team, however those leaders that do find their teams are stronger – and their employees respect the level of accountability the leader has proven to hold every person on the team.

It’s now 2019, the last year in this decade. We’ve seen some tumultuous times, and leaders of all kinds have been challenged in many ways.

What is a leader? A leader is simply one that aims to influence another person’s behavior or actions. You don’t have to have a title to be a leader. Anyone that chooses can become one

I have worked in several companies, and all of them had their share of Rock Stars and Super Stars. As a leader, you want to get away from the Rock Stars as quickly as possible and hope that you can have several Super Stars in your midst.

Super Stars are the ultimate team players. They lead from the sidelines, from the center and anywhere they are needed. Their primary goal is to do what’s best for the company, but they won’t lose what personally motivates them (such as outside of work) to do it. If taken care of, Super Stars are the most loyal employees; they know their job as well the job of several others. They have significant knowledge on their organization, their work to the point that makes their organization more successful by doing their job or feel the pain if they do not. However, even though most Super Stars know how important they are to their organization – they never use it against the company.

Rock Stars, on the other hand, can be team leaders, but many times chose the easier (and more self-serving) path of taking care of #1 – themselves. Like Super Stars, they have significant knowledge on their organization. They know their knowledge is vital – and use it to their advantage as much as possible. This could be in the form of attitude, work load (choosing to work less), or demands (pay raise, position, perks) beyond normal expectations.

The challenge for companies with Rock Stars is that typically, Rock Stars are made, not born. The company has allowed these individuals to grown in the organization as a single point of failure – someone who is more important to the organization – than the organization is to the Rock Star. The organization needs the individual – more than the individual needs the organization. This could even appear to the point of blackmail (“if you don’t give into my demands (as a Rock Star), then I will leave the company, and you will lose XYZ information”) if not kept in check.

How do you prevent growing Rock Stars?

1- Take a look at your team for Single Points of Failure. Is there anyone on your team that is the only person that has knowledge of an area?

2- If so, build a plan for a backup, develop a playbook, create a training plan, set up a bench of individuals that can grow in the job

3- If you find that the Rock Star recognizes their position may be threatened (“knowledge is power! If I have all the knowledge, then I have power”), explain your plan going forward to have backups – to help them and everyone else. Encourage them to become Super Stars – becoming team players in the process. If the Rock Star continues to challenge you – you may be forced to hold them accountable – either they train others, or they have to leave your organization

Some may challenge the advice in #3 – and rightly so. If you get rid of the Rock Star, don’t you lose the knowledge? Digging a bit deeper, you’ll find that most Rock Stars are seen by their peers as a poison pill that gets away with things that others don’t – and unjustly so. By keeping a Rock Star, and allowing him/her to continue – you put your organization at risk with their singular knowledge and your team as a breakdown in teamwork can occur.

I find many leaders struggle the most with the last paragraph – and I have found myself in that category. It does take a strong leader to upgrade a Rock Star into a Super Star on their team, but it can be done.

Leaders that go beyond and hold their Rock Stars (and teams) accountable find their teams are stronger.

It’s 2019. This is the year YOU can make it happen.

Originally published on LinkedIn

Express Yourself: Outside of your comfort zone

Express Yourself: Outside of your comfort zone

We’ve all heard the saying, “If you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life”. Hopefully, most of us have found ourselves in a career path where we truly enjoy what it is we are accomplishing. But what if I told you that loving what you do, your daily motivation, and efficiency at work, can all be connected to one aspect? Talent engagement. After reading, “To Get More, Try Giving More ” by Ashley Lesko, it was made clear the influence talent engagement has on job satisfaction and work efficiency.

The more an individual utilizes their natural strengths the more pleasure they will find in their craft. Simply because, who doesn’t love doing the things they are good at? And no, this does not mean if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing to leave and never look back. It just means to find opportunities to engage your talents- even if that includes stepping out of your comfort zone.

For example, I’ve always been good with technology, analytics, and writing. The analytic and writing skillsets I developed from a communication studies background, and technology is something I’ve just always enjoyed. Therefore writing on sporting events for the local paper wasn’t an issue for me, but it became rather repetitive. One day I was asked to commentate some High school football games over the radio; I was excited yet also reluctant. Yes, I knew the language associated and the analytical numbers aspect of the sport and the radio technology was no challenge. But the job was still outside my comfort zone, I am a naturally reserved person until I become comfortable. Therefore the thought of my voice becoming known by thousands of people in my area did not ring well with me, especially the task of developing a radio personality. Yet I went with it; expressing myself and my talents in a new style. Fast forward to present day, and I love every moment of it and can’t wait until this upcoming football season where I will commentate again.  

Therefore, my advice to you; exploit ways to engage your talents at work and you will experience a happier, more productive, you.

By: Brooks Rynders