All posts tagged: Leadership

4 Counterproductive Leadership Habits And How To Change Them

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Most leaders I meet are conscientious, wanting to do right by their team. In an attempt to do so, they sometimes end up getting the wrong results. Their behavior as leaders contributes to common staff problems including lack of autonomy, change that doesn’t stick, and a failure to get buy-in.

Why does this happen? Shared habits. Many leaders keep doing the same things because that’s how they’ve always done them. They share those habits with their direct reports, some of whom go on to be leaders. These new leaders end up leading how they were led, repeating the cycle.

You can break this cycle by changing your habits. Here are 4 common counterproductive leadership habits and what to do instead.

Leadership Habit #1
Maintaining an open-door policy

In an attempt to be present and available, leaders allow direct reports to access them on demand. This fosters a dependent relationship. Wanting to avoid mistakes, staff get in the routine of going to the boss for the answers. Instead of developing autonomy, team members become overly dependent on the boss’ intellect. Managers end up bearing a heavy burden. They become the “helicopter” and “lawnmower” parents of the business world.

What to do instead
Maintain an occasionally open-door policy

Closing your door is healthy. It gives you uninterrupted time to get things done. More importantly, it gives your staff space to do their jobs—independently. Yes, making yourself immediately available for true emergencies is prudent, and you should remain in the loop about what’s going on. But remember this—no one benefits when you enable and participate in co-dependent behavior.

Engage with your team daily. Schedule weekly one-on-ones with each staff member. Keep regular office hours, and don’t be afraid to close your door.

Leadership Habit #2
Answering staff questions

Another habit that creates unhealthy dependence is answering staff questions. Team members, wanting to do what’s right, tend to believe the boss has the answer. Every answer given reinforces that the boss knows best.

What to do instead
Let staff answer more of their own questions

Use one of more of these questions next time someone on your team comes looking for an answer.

“What could you do about this?”

“How have you solved that in the past?”

“What’s a possible next step? And the next? And the next?”

“I don’t know. How do you think this should be handled?”

Staff members, without realizing it, often know the answer. They’re closest to the situation at hand and, because of that, have better insights than you. Sometimes they just need help unlocking their own wisdom.

Leadership Habit #3
Telling people what to do

There are times when staff do need direction. New hires require training and insights. Tenured staff confront situations for which they have no experience.

Many leaders mistakenly tell people what to do, forgetting that talk is cheap. What’s said goes in one ear and out the other.

What to do instead
Show people what to do

Showing sticks. The employee sees how it’s done. You can then watch and help her make adjustments.

When a new hire needs to understand how to do something, show, don’t tell. If a tenured employee is facing something new, demonstrate, don’t pontificate. And if you’re lacking the expertise needed, have someone else do the showing instead.

Leadership Habit #4
Attempting to create buy-in

Creating buy-in is a form of selling. Leaders attempt to sell their team on the latest strategy or idea. The hope is that the team will buy in. Sometimes they do. Other times they don’t, creating an uphill battle as the leader attempts to drive things forward.

What to do instead
Let people talk themselves into buying in

Remember that buyers of anything, including ideas, always believe themselves. But may or may not believe you. Let the better salesperson sell. That’s your staff, not you. Your job as a leader is to point the way. The job of the team is to discuss how you’ll get there together.

You can say something like this

“As a leadership team, we’ve decided to <BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF STRATEGY OR IDEA>. Let’s discuss how we’re going to do that. What do you suggest as our next steps?

Scott Wintrip4 Counterproductive Leadership Habits And How To Change Them
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Why, Hire Slow, Fire Fast is Dead Wrong!

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How can you speed up the hiring process while making sure you hire the right person? Bestselling author and Top 30 Global Leadership Guru Dov Baron and I discuss concrete steps you can take in this segment of his award-winning podcast.

 

Scott WintripWhy, Hire Slow, Fire Fast is Dead Wrong!
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Build and Maintain a Strong Staffing Leadership Team

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podcast-sleeveSuccess in the staffing and recruitment business hinges on leadership. Yet, building and maintaining a strong leadership team is a constant challenge for many firms. In this conversation with Lisa Maxwell of Gerard Stewart, you’ll hear concrete advice and actionable steps that will strengthen your executive leadership team and also boost the quality of your entire firm’s management.

Scott WintripBuild and Maintain a Strong Staffing Leadership Team
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Timely Advice From One of HR’s Top Advocates

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There are lots of people who are passionate about the positive impacts of the HR profession. Then there’s Steve Browne. He’s a gifted HR leader combined with being the ultimate cheerleader for the profession. I had the pleasure of chatting with him recently. You’ll want to be sure to print a copy of this conversation and refer to his advice often.

Scott: For those who’ve not yet met you Steve, what should they know about you and your work?

Steve: I’m kind of a unicorn when it comes to Human Resources because it’s the only field I’ve been in throughout my career. I’ve held various roles in distinctly different industries, but always in HR. My current role is the one people in HR dream about because I’m expected to be a strategic businessperson. It’s not that I haven’t done this in the past, but now it’s more intentional. I get to work on culture and moving the business forward through our people.

Scott: I love the title of your new book, “HR on Purpose !!” Why was it important for you to write this book now?

Steve: It’s important because I’ve grown weary of people tearing down Human Resources. We’re one of the few fields where people take shots at it on a fairly regular basis. I want my peers in HR to know that what they do matters organizationally, personally, and professionally. I felt that I had a message that was positive and genuine based on experience and not just theory.

Scott: One of the valuable things you address in the book is changing counterproductive mindsets. You challenge readers to give up their preconceived notions about HR and instead develop HR into what it could be. What’s one of the most common of these counterproductive mindsets? How can people begin to change this right now?

Steve: A significant counterproductive mindset is basing how you practice HR on the exceptions versus the majority. We tend to take some anomaly in behavior and make a massive, stringent policy or procedure to address a fringe situation. We continue to miss the majority of people who are great to work with and are doing their best. We’ve dehumanized the workplace through structure and systems. The first step to take is to understand that if you loosen the reigns a bit that chaos will not break out. It just won’t. People want to have expectations and parameters to work within, and not a set of do’s and don’ts. Trust that people will bring their best, and they will.

Scott: Many HR leaders tell me that they’re ready to embrace new ideas, such as the faster hiring process I developed that eliminates hiring delays. However, some are having trouble getting company executives to buy-in. How can these HR leaders engage executives to support them in making these changes?

Steve: I believe we need to remind ourselves that executives are employees too. Since we have the ability and opportunity to work with all employees, we can feel that executives are approachable if we treat them as people and not titles. HR needs to learn to speak the language of every level of the organization so that they can be heard and valued. When meeting with execs there needs to be a business case and a business impact as part of the conversation. It’s not that ideas aren’t great on their own. However, putting together something from an overall business perspective is more likely to be considered because you’re speaking their language.

Scott: One’s one simple secret most people don’t know about staying passionate as an HR leader?

Steve: I think you have to truly believe in people. Not some poster catchphrase or cutesy slogan. Believe in others. They’re aching for someone to do that on a regular basis throughout companies of all sizes and types. People want to belong and HR can be that link for them. That energy drives passion. I know people will disappoint me, but I will disappoint others at times as well. The humanity and uniqueness of people motivates me because I get to meet and learn about the world through their eyes. It never gets old.

Scott: What’s one closing piece of advice you’d like to share with our readers?

Steve: I’d love for your readers to know that what they do matters and has a lasting impact on the lives of people. This is far more than “work” or “HR.” We’re in the people business and we have the chance to shape and improve lives. Something as simple as a warm “Hello” that is intentional and not just done in passing may be the one thing that breaks through to someone who needed to be acknowledged and noticed. I don’t mean to sound utopian. It’s just time for HR to own who it is and what it does within an organization. It’s time for us to practice on purpose!! (double exclamation points intended)

Scott: It’s hard not to feel good about the valuable work done by HR professionals when you’ve got Steve Browne telling it like it is. Be sure to read his book and follow his work. Here’s how you can do both:

Buy Steve’s book

Read Steve’s blog

Follow Steve on LinkedIn

Scott WintripTimely Advice From One of HR’s Top Advocates
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Leading Change: How to Go from Being an A-hole to an A-Player

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podcast-sleeveEvery leader has to drive some type of change from time to time. Because changing things makes people uncomfortable, it’s common that leaders are viewed negatively, even when whatever is being changed is in the best interest of everyone. In this podcast, I walk you through three simple change management steps. By following these, you’ll no longer be seen as an “a-hole” and instead be viewed as an A-player by the very people impacted by change.

Scott WintripLeading Change: How to Go from Being an A-hole to an A-Player
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How to Create a Rising Tide of Talent Within Your Organization

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Great leaders lift up the people around them. They help employees harness their natural abilities, guide the development of their skills, and support them along an internal career path. Nurturing your organization’s team members has many payoffs. Staff member stay dedicated to the company and its mission; employee retention remains high; and in time, the organization gains its next generation of leaders.

Unfortunately, the persistent talent shortage across the globe is undermining these efforts. There continue to be more jobs than qualified people to fill them. Further, this talent shortage is delaying promotions, which keeps people stuck in their current jobs because they’re the only ones who can do that job. Even when there’s a career path for them, talented employees can’t advance in their own company; they can’t step up because there’s simply no one available to take their place.

You can solve this problem by creating a rising tide of talent available to your organization. Instead of focusing on succession plans that fail for lack of qualified successors, developing a continuous influx of top talent expedites advancement and elevates careers at all levels in your organization.

How can you create a rising tide of talent? By ensuring your organization maintains a wealth of quality people.

Determining Your Current Talent Wealth

Talented employees who do outstanding work are the secret ingredients that make a company great. Sustaining a full complement of good employees fuels succession plans and helps you maintain a competitive advantage.

Just as there are levels of personal wealth, so too are there levels of talent wealth within all companies. The departments in your organization are either talent rich, talent poor, or hover somewhere in between. Understanding your current level of talent wealth is important. Read the following descriptions and share them with your organization’s department heads and HR. Work together to determine which description best describes the current ranking of each department.

1. Talent Rich Departments

Talent rich departments employ mostly above average people, many of who are top talent in their fields of expertise. These people consistently do high quality work, often exceeding expectations and beating deadlines. Numerous advancement opportunities are almost always filled from within, creating new job opportunities. These jobs are filled quickly from a pipeline filled with high quality job candidates.

2. Talent Strong Departments

Talent strong departments employ people who are at least average at what they do. Some of these employees are top talent in their fields of expertise. They do quality work that meets expectations and deadlines. Advancement opportunities are frequently filled from within, creating new job opportunities. Some open jobs are filled quickly from a pipeline of talent. Other jobs take longer to fill, delaying promotions until new employees are found.

3. Talent Stable Departments

Talent stable departments have a mixture of average and below average performers. Just a few, if any, employees would be designated as top talent. The performance of these employees is typically adequate, although they can struggle to meet expectations and deadlines. Advancement opportunities, when they occur, are sometimes filled from within. When jobs become open, it usually takes days to fill some of them, weeks or months to fill the rest. Promotions are often delayed or even cancelled when backfilling a role takes too long.

4. Talent Poor Departments

Talent poor departments employ a significant number of below average performers, along with a handful of people who could be considered average in their roles. Rarely is there anyone on the team who could be considered top talent. Job performance is usually mediocre at best. Deadlines are often missed and expectations are rarely exceeded. Advancement opportunities are rare, prompting people to leave for other positions. When jobs open, it takes weeks or months to fill them.

Shaping the Future of Your Organization’s Talent

Talent rich businesses thrive while others struggle. Make maintaining high talent wealth throughout your company a top priority to ensure its success. Require that each department improve their ranking (or maintain their talent rich level if that’s already been achieved). Support department heads in filling open jobs and replacing subpar performers with quality hires. Work together with each department to set a goal and a deadline for this improvement, such as raising their current ranking one level or more by the end of the next business quarter. If you need help drawing in quality job candidates and conducting an efficient hiring process, my new book will show you how.

The flow of talent in your organization will determine its future, lifting careers or sinking them, including your own. Hire exceptional people. Help them to be the best versions of themselves. Offer them a path that elevates their careers and yours. Build and maintain a wealth of talent that makes your organization an unstoppable force in the marketplace.

This article originally appeared on Great Leadership with Dan McCarthy.

Scott WintripHow to Create a Rising Tide of Talent Within Your Organization
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When It Comes to Hiring, Top Leaders Never Go With the Flow

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waterfallYou’ll likely agree that hiring is one of your most important tasks. Get it right, you make your job as a leader easier. Get it wrong, you make your job harder—and possibly put your career at risk. The desire to get hiring right is why many executives and managers are slow to hire and quick to fire.

Problem is, you’re beyond busy. Every day is full. An open seat means extra work you either have to do yourself or delegate. Add the steps of the hiring process, and your already busy day turns overwhelming.

How can you balance your need to make good hires while managing your day efficiently?

It’s all about talent flow.

Enrich and Harness Top Talent

The importance of talent flow came up recently at global CEO summit I attended. After my keynote address I stood on a balcony talking with a few CEOs from the audience. We looked out over a stunning landscape. Mountains stretched into the distance, dotted by lakes and streams, the rolling landscape accented with the beautiful orange and red hues of fall foliage.

On one side, a particularly beautiful lake drew our attention. One of the CEOs, who lived in the area, told us it was his favorite fishing spot. He explained the lake was fed by a spring. The spring burbles up from an aquifer, pumping in millions of gallons of oxygen-enriched fresh water. Water that sustains the fish and nurtures plant life. On the other side of this crystal clear lake was a stream. The stream served double duty—it allowed fish to swim downstream to seek food in nearby lakes, and carried away dead plant matter and other natural waste.

“That’s why it’s perfect for fishing,” the CEO said. “The flow in and out creates balance. There’s just enough fish, plants, and nutrients to keep it pristine.”

As we were talking, I happened to glance in the other direction and see another lake—one that was quite unattractive. There was no spring feeding this lake, nor was there a stream carrying away debris. It was stagnant, covered by a large algae bloom and choked with dead plants. I pointed it out and asked the CEO about it.

“It smells just as bad as it looks,” he said. “No one fishes there. Even if they did, I doubt they’d catch anything good.”

I nodded my head, making a connection. I was about to speak, but he anticipated my thoughts with uncanny accuracy.

“These lakes are a good metaphor for hiring,” he said. “The effective hiring you described in your keynote is like the lake where I fish. Flow creates abundance. In the spring-fed lake, the flow of water creates abundant life. In a company, a flow of talent gives the organization an abundance of human resources which allows it to achieve strategic goals. Talent may flow out, but a continuous supply of new talent brings new perspectives and people who can do great work.”

He was spot on. If there’s a secret weapon behind successful CEOs and top leaders, it’s making talent flow a strategic imperative. From the top down, these leaders know it’s incumbent upon them, not just HR or the talent acquisition team, to maintain a strong flow of talented people. Savvy leaders understand having a strong talent flow is a strategic necessity. Without that flow, departments—or even the entire organization—could end up like that stagnant lake.

How can you incorporate improved talent flow as a strategic imperative? Here are three important details I shared with the CEOs at the summit:

ENRICH THE FLOW

Like the spring feeding the lake, make sure your company has a constant inbound pipeline of prospective employees. Take steps to keep it strong. Work to generate a consistent stream of talented, valuable candidates. Weed out the weak sooner so they don’t waste your time later.

Only 10% of organizations across the globe maintain a strong flow of quality candidates and tap into overlooked pools of talent. That’s where you start—don’t be one of the 90%.

Your growth strategy must include a robust talent flow strategy. Make it a requirement. Task department heads to continuously assess and enrich the stream of prospective employees. Require it before jobs become open, not after. Provide them with resources to tap into a wider pool of candidates. Lead by example. Show them how to enrich the flow by actively networking, referring new candidates, and pointing them toward the pristine, spring-fed lakes best for fishing.

HARNESS THE FLOW

The healthy lake is the candidate pool; the interview is your rod, reel, and tackle. Effective interviews are how you harness the flow of top talent. They’re how you catch and land top team members. Unfortunately, most interviews fail at identifying the best people.

Effective interviews aren’t conceptual. Companies operate in the real world of balance sheets, deadlines, and deliverables. Interviewing should be a reality check—a pragmatic and efficient process that allows you and the candidate to make an informed decision based on facts directly related to the job, not on theory, abstractions, or cute questions that may or may not be relevant to the task at hand. Which is, of course, finding the right person for your company.

The prettiest lure in the world is worthless if it doesn’t land the right fish.

Get the facts you need by taking a rational approach to interviews. Be like a scientist: gather and evaluate the evidence; make a decision based on that evidence—not on what you project or how a candidate spins a particular aspect of their resume or work experience. Look for proof the candidate can do quality work. Ask for real examples from previous work projects. If examples aren’t available, have them generate a sample—right then and there—related to the job for which they’re interviewing.

SUSTAIN THE FLOW

As your company takes steps to enrich and harness the flow of talent, there’s a risk you’ll change too much at one time.

Patience is a virtue many of us lack. In today’s fast-paced society, impatience is the norm. We want things done now, not weeks from now. To drive change, we set tight deadlines and push everyone, including ourselves, towards the goal.

Fast change rarely sticks. It takes time to adjust routines and change habits. A rapid series of changes can overwhelm us. We reach a tipping point and give up, reverting to our previous routines.

Incorporating an improved talent flow into your strategic plans is a must, but you have to make the timeline realistic and achievable.

As a leader, creating a vibrant organization begins and ends with you. When your company is already like that beautiful, thriving, healthy lake, you have an advantage. If your company is part of the forward thinking 10% that maintains a constant stream of incoming talent, keep it that way. Don’t build dams; make sure the spring keeps flowing.

If your organization is more like that stagnant lake, don’t fret. A lake can be restored to its former beauty—so can your company and all the departments in it. Make it a strategic imperative to tap that deep aquifer. Enrich, harness, and sustain the flow of top talent. When you make this proactive choice, you’ll keep your pool of potentials stocked with skilled, resourceful people who do great work, help you reach your strategic goals, and keep your company strong and thriving.

Scott WintripWhen It Comes to Hiring, Top Leaders Never Go With the Flow
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