On Wednesday I had the privilege of speaking at Leader’s Edge. Leader’s Edge is an environment for business and non-profit leaders. It is hosted at two locations on the first Wednesday of every month. One is at Der Dutchman Restaurant in Walnut Creek Ohio at 7:00 am; the other is at the McDonald/Marlite Conference Center in New Philadelphia, OH at 12:00 pm. NewPointe Community Church has been offering this for nearly 10 years.
The first 20-30 minutes is a time of networking and eating breakfast or lunch. The last 30-40 minutes is a talk about leadership or management issues.
I thought I would share a few nuggets from the talk I gave to the leaders that came on Wednesday.
The title of the talk was “Getting Beyond I know it All”.
Many leaders have a little bit of a know it all mentality that can hold them back from being as successful as they could be. I started with a great quote from Peter Drucker “We spend a lot of time teaching leaders what to do. We don’t spend enough time teaching leaders what to stop. Half the leaders I have met don’t need to learn what to do. They need to learn what to stop.”
I believe that the higher you go in leadership, the more your problems are behavioral. It becomes less about doing the work yourself and more about getting other people to do the work. This usually brings out some of our interpersonal behavioral bad habits. Your people skills become more important the higher you go in leadership.
I talked about the TV show “House”. House is a brilliant doctor that is obnoxious, rude, crude and not very likable. His team of doctors get all the tough cases and they always solve the problem at the last minute. This weeks episode dealt with a doctor that left his team. She is still working at the hospital though. She kept giving her thoughts on the current case and Dr. House offered her job back. She told him that she really missed the job, the challenges and many things about the work. She went on to tell him that she did not miss him.
You see, people do not typically leave an organization or a department, they leave a person.
I went on to talk about five bad interpersoanl behaviors that keep us from being great leaders or managers.
Here they are:
1. Adding too much value – feeling like you need to add to and improve every idea that comes your way.
2. Starting a sentence with “No”, “But”, or “However” – When you do that you send the other person the message that they are wrong, even though I agree with some of what you said. I challenged the group to go back to work and start counting how often people use those three words.
3. Telling the world how smart you are – We can do this with non-verbal messages or verbal messages. Being smart turns people on, announcing how smart you are turns them off.
4. Withholding Information – whether intentional or unintentional this is very damaging to an organizations culture. When you leave someone outside the loop by not giving them information you devalue them. Not returning a voicemail, email or only giving partial answers, sets people up to fail and be frustrated.
5. Refusing to express regret – Refusing to apologize or admit you were wrong is a big behavioral problem. Not only in your personal life, but at work. People who can’t apologize at work might as well be wearing a t-shirt that says “I don’t care about you”. Admitting you were wrong and saying you are sorry builds respect and loyalty like nothing else.
I closed with these nuggets on leading better:
* Push decisions down
* Involve others as much as possible in key decisions
* Be a developer, not an answer man
* See your people as your greatest resource for ideas
* Give your people space to make decisions
* Let those who are responsible decide how the jobs will get done.
If you want to read more about some of these topics, you can check out two books:
“What got you Here, Won’t get you There” by Marshall Goldsmith
“Top Ten Mistakes Leader’s make” by Hans Finzel
The next Leader’s Edge will be on Wednesday September 3rd, 2008.