"leadership ability"

Sun 24 January 2021
The goal of a 360-degree assessment is to identify blind spots and vulnerabilities in your professional skillset. By getting feedback from your colleagues and comparing their perspectives to your self-assessment, you can get a deeper understanding of your work performance. 

There are generally 3 outcomes from a 360-degree assessment: 1) somebody has underestimated their abilities, 2) somebody has overestimated their abilities, or 3) somebody is self-aware about their abilities. There are ten other articles addressing the two other possible outcomes of a 360-Degree Assessment available here:

Self-Aware - People Management, Innovation, Leadership Ability, Communication Skills, and Financial Management

Overestimating -  People Management, Innovation, Leadership Ability, Communication Skills, and Financial Management

Understanding Underestimating your Abilities for 360-Degree Assessments

When somebody has underestimated their abilities, they are essentially giving themselves a lower score for whatever category is being measured compared to their colleagues’ score of them. At first glance, this may seem like a positive thing: “If my colleagues believe that I’m better than my self-assessed performance, then I must be doing pretty well!” This is partially true, but this article will shed light and provide examples of how underestimating your abilities can be an opportunity for improvement.

When my team and I at Ambition In Motion facilitate mentorship programs, we also include our 360-Degree Assessment (and its report) to each participant. We’ve found that our members use these insights to reveal the areas most in need of improvement. This has helped members identify the best course for professional growth and helps provide a major launching pad for helping them open up and be vulnerable in their mentor relationships.

The 5 core areas we measure in our 360-degree assessment are People Management, Innovation, Leadership Ability, Communication Skills, and Financial Management.

This article is one in a series of articles focused on why underestimating one's score on a 360-degree assessment report based on the 5 core areas listed in the paragraph above is not necessarily advantageous for one’s career.

Leadership Ability

Leadership ability is an important skill for any professional, regardless of whether you hold an official leadership position. Leadership ability is based on one’s ability to set proper expectations for their work and communicate those expectations clearly and effectively. Skilled leaders demonstrate their ability to motivate others towards a purpose that benefits everyone, their willingness to take accountability when things go wrong, and the modesty to give credit when things go right.
If you gave yourself a lower score than your colleagues on your leadership ability, that could indicate a lack of awareness for your own effects on the workplace or a lack of understanding of what is expected of great leaders compared to your own ability.

Lack of awareness

When seemingly great leaders (according to their colleagues) rate themselves lower than expected, they tend to do so because they are unsure which actions convey strong leadership in the eyes of their colleagues. To some, it’s the humble superhero sentiment of “anyone would have done what I did if they were in my shoes.” But the reality is that everyone has their own style when taking on the tasks that embody a leader and your colleagues seem to have noticed your abilities. 

Lack of understanding what is expected

The other major reason why somebody gives themselves a lower score on their leadership abilities compared to their colleagues is that they believe what is expected of them to be a leader is greater than the way they have performed up until this point. Similar to lack of awareness, typically this person doesn’t know what is expected from the leader and they tend to set the bar of what they believe a leader is way too high. They still fulfill the role of leader, but might not realize it. Or they think that they could be doing better and don’t give themselves enough credit. Similar to the dissatisfaction Michael Jordan had during the peak of his NBA career with his own game (and wanting to always make improvements), people in this category set an unattainable bar of leadership that is impossible to achieve.

There are several possible solutions to help close the gap in one’s leadership ability. The first is to contemplate and think about the possible reasons why your team considers you to be a strong leader. You might not give yourself credit for it, but your colleagues do! So, try learning to trust their judgment by considering what exactly your team sees that you don’t. You can also try creating a list of all of the times this past year where you stepped up and helped your team as a leader (even if you think anyone would have done it). You need to give yourself credit for the times you stepped up as a leader and try to create some form of celebration (no celebration is too small) for when you practice effective leadership and step up to the plate.

Counter-argument

The eternal counter-argument to this is “I just set the bar really high and I feel like I am not where I would like to be in this area.” If that is the case, then you are not effectively communicating your standards to those you work with. If your colleagues don’t know your standards, then they can’t properly assess your abilities in relation to those standards.  

Overall, the goal of a 360-degree assessment and report is to identify the gaps and blindspots one may have so then they can improve their performance. The goal is to be self-aware, thus enabling you to work towards excellence in each area. Underestimating your performance might feel good at first because it shows others think highly of you, but continually failing to meet your own expectations means that you risk burning out or losing engagement. So, try being honest with yourself and setting honest goals. Professional growth is a slow process that takes dedication, consistency, and honesty, but by following the path, we are all capable of becoming our best selves.

Sat 30 January 2021
A 360-degree assessment is a unique survey that uses input from self-assessment and from colleagues’ assessments to understand a professional’s strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots. By gathering feedback from your colleagues alongside your own perspective on those same questions, we can get a deeper look at how your self-perception compares to the way your colleagues see you. 

With this data, we can break down the results of a 360-Degree Assessment into three outcomes: 

1) Somebody has underestimated their abilities (self-rating lower than colleagues’ ratings), 

2) Somebody has overestimated their abilities (self-rating higher than colleagues’), 
 or
 3) Somebody is self-aware about their abilities (self-rating matches colleagues’).

This article is going to address some possible problems and solutions that might arise for people who are self-aware of their abilities. This article is part of a series I’m writing about Ambition In Motion’s 360-Degree Assessments and how their results should be interpreted. There are ten other articles addressing the two other possible outcomes of a 360-Degree Assessment available here:

Overestimating - People Management, Innovation, Leadership Ability, Communication Skills, and Financial Management 

Understanding Self-Awareness for 360-Degree Assessments

When somebody is self-aware about their abilities, this means that they gave themselves a similar score as the score their colleagues provided on the same skill. 

Initially, self-awareness may seem to be a cut-and-dry positive outcome but looking a bit deeper reveals some potential issues. After all, the goal of a 360-degree assessment is to identify blind spots and close the gaps between one’s self-perception and the perception of their colleagues. However, we find that there are opportunities for growth within a self-aware 360-degree assessment report and this article will review those opportunities.

At Ambition In Motion, our 360-Degree Assessment has 5 core components: 

a.                People Management
b.                Innovation
c.                Leadership Ability, 
d.                Communication Skills, and 
e.                Financial Management.

While self-awareness is likely the best outcome relative to the other two possibilities, I’m next going to explain how you can leverage self-awareness to grow as a professional and identify blind spots in your professional perspective. I’m going to show why self-awareness on your 360-Degree Assessment is more than just a pat on the back, even if you and your colleagues share similar views on your performance. 

Leadership Ability

Leadership ability is an important skill for any professional, regardless of whether you hold an official leadership position. Leadership ability is based on one’s ability to set proper expectations for their work and communicate those expectations clearly and effectively. Skilled leaders demonstrate their ability to motivate others towards a purpose that benefits everyone, their willingness to take accountability when things go wrong, and the modesty to give credit when things go right.

If you gave yourself a score that was consistent with what your colleagues said of you, it can mean that you gave yourself a high score and your colleagues agreed with you or you gave yourself a low score and your colleagues agreed with you.

Self-Awareness but poor performance

If you gave yourself a relatively low score on your leadership ability and your colleagues agreed with you, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are a bad leader and your colleagues have confirmed it. Oftentimes, we give ourselves a low score on our leadership ability out of humility and recognition that leadership is a trait that can always be improved. However, when our colleagues feel like we aren’t strong at leadership either, this can typically be attributed to our ability to communicate.

People tend to perceive others as lacking leadership abilities NOT because of their inability to speak up, but more often because when one does speak up, it is perceived as self-centered and only benefiting the person making the request. Simply, leadership for yourself instead of for the team.

Here is an example of this situation. Many years ago, I was a server and bartender at a restaurant. My manager was a well-intentioned guy who read all the leadership books and constantly talked about how he wanted to improve his leadership abilities. I didn’t give him a 360-degree assessment, but I would imagine that his self-rating on leadership ability would be somewhat low because he recognized that there were areas for growth in his leadership repertoire. The issue was, although he understood the theory and high-level ideas from his books, his implementation of information was off. He never had a pulse for how we, the people who reported to him, felt about his management style and the processes he wanted to implement. To convey the importance of organizational citizenship and helping fellow servers and bartenders, he told all of us a story of a time that he pulled over to help somebody fix a flat tire. His goal was to convey that helping others is the right thing to do and can have a positive impact on the team. However, we noticed that the story was just about him. To us, it felt like he was just patting himself on the back, and because he never gave a resolution (e.g., the person he helped never spoke with him again), it was relatively unclear as to why helping others can have a positive impact on the rest of the team. 

The point is that sometimes we can be educated about the theory of what it means to be a leader, but our efforts to implement those leadership strategies may not fully resonate with those we work with unless we ask for feedback and be open to making adjustments after learning the feedback.

Another reason you may have given yourself a low leadership score (and your colleagues agreed with you) could be because you don’t actually believe you are a strong leader and your role doesn’t necessitate that you be a leader. 

But being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have a placard or title labeled leader. Leadership abilities can include helping set expectations for your work with those you work with, taking accountability for mistakes that may happen, and giving acknowledgement to others when they have helped you.

Leadership ability transcends titles and enters into the realm of just being a good professional to work with. Thinking you aren’t good at these skills and then having your colleagues confirm these beliefs can be tough. But it’s no help if you start thinking there is nothing you can or need to do about it. If you don’t work on these components of your professionalism, you become an energy-taker instead of an energy-giver. People will resent working with you because they will perceive you as being selfish and uninterested in the outcome of the team. And if you are actually selfish and uninterested in the outcome of the team, then perhaps it makes sense to reflect on yourself and on your time to figure out the best use of it. There are plenty of jobs out there. If you are working at a company with a team, or just doing work that is uninteresting to you, then perhaps it is time to consider another line of work because the time you are spending doing your current work doesn’t appear to be serving you or those you work with.

Self-Awareness and high performance

If you have a relatively high leadership ability score and your colleagues agree with you, that is excellent, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have achieved the pinnacle of leadership ability. 

Leadership ability is an interesting concept because the ultimate measure of success as a leader is both: how does my team feel about working with me AND what outcomes are we achieving as a team.

If you rated yourself highly and your team agrees with you, you can check off half of the box. However, how is your performance? Finding the right balance between output and keeping people satisfied, both doing the work and in your leadership ability, is the key to being the best leader you can be.

Therefore, when it comes to the question of output, you must assess comfort versus optimization. In terms of comfort, the question is: are you and your team achieving a performance level in which 1) the business can operate effectively, and 2) people are satisfied with their compensation? If the answer to either part is no, then you have a big problem. This means you are a supportive leader and your leadership style is appreciated, but it also means that you haven’t set the bar high enough. Something needs to change so the business can run at a level where everyone is comfortable.

There is a tv show on Hulu called Ramy. It is an interesting show about a man in his late 20’s trying to figure out his life. At the beginning of season 1, Ramy is working at a startup. He and his colleagues recognize that they aren’t paid the best, but they believe in the mission and they like the people they work with. Unfortunately, the company performance leaves much to be desired. Eventually, the company isn’t able to drive the revenue or fundraising it needs to survive and everyone gets fired.

This is a small story within the tv show, but it shows that Ramy appreciated the founders of the startup at one point in time (e.g. would have given a high leadership score to the founders), but once the company started to fail and everyone was fired, they all left with a salty taste in their mouth about the entire experience. 

There are many factors for why a business eventually fails, but sometimes for fear of being perceived as a bad or overly aggressive leader to our team, we set lower bars for those we work with, even if it means the business can’t run comfortably. 

However, if your work exists comfortably (either from a leadership perspective or as an individual contributor), and your leadership ratings are mutually high, then you have to ask yourself if your work is running optimally.

If you are an individual contributor, the incentive may not be as clear as to why you would question this or pursue improvement to the optimum level. You are not necessarily getting compensated any more to make these improvements. As a leader, the motivation for this is pretty obvious – e.g. the better your team performs, the more valuable you are to the company.

But as an individual contributor, a big reason for wanting to improve your output to an optimum level, while maintaining a high level of respect from your colleagues as they perceive your leadership abilities, is control and autonomy. If you show a desire to push the status quo and improve the company’s output, you become substantially more valuable to the company. Being able to identify more efficient and innovative methods while keeping it easy for your colleagues to work with you because you set proper expectations and help them see opportunities that they may not have already seen, you become substantially more valuable to the company.  If your company can’t live without you, you will have the control and autonomy to try new things that the company would not trust others to try. 

If you ever had a shared family car growing up, this would be like always making sure you return the car to your parents with a full tank of gas (and occasionally a car wash) after you borrow it. Later, when it comes to borrowing the car for a concert 4 hours away, you have a track record of responsibility and respect for your parent’s car. 

The key to getting performance to an optimum level is not sacrificing the way your team feels about your leadership ability. The real key to being the best leader you can be is finding the balance between optimum performance and having the respect and support of your colleagues.

Overall, having a self-aware response on your 360-degree assessment report isn’t a free pass to give in to stagnation. It simply shows that you and your colleagues are on the same page. But, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for improvement. The implications from having a self-aware score are not wholly positive or wholly negative. Instead, it is a snapshot of your current performance which can help you make informed decisions about where you need improvement. As long as you possess an open-mindedness about making improvements and are willing to measure whether the new changes worked, you can ensure that you are on a positive track towards continual growth and improvement.

Fri 19 February 2021
A 360-degree assessment helps you understand your professional performance by having both you and your colleagues assess your abilities across several key skills. 

The goal of a 360-degree assessment is to identify blind spots and vulnerabilities in your professional skillset. By getting feedback from your colleagues and comparing their perspectives to your self-assessment, you can get a deeper understanding of your work performance.  

There are generally 3 outcomes from a 360-degree assessment: 1) somebody has underestimated their abilities, 2) somebody has overestimated their abilities, or 3) somebody is self-aware about their abilities. 

This article is going to address some possible problems and solutions that might arise for people who have overestimated their abilities. This article is part of a series I’m writing about Ambition In Motion’s 360-Degree Assessments and how their results should be interpreted. There are ten other articles addressing the two other possible outcomes of a 360-Degree Assessment available here:


When somebody has overestimated their abilities, they are essentially giving themselves a greater score for whatever category is being measured compared to their colleagues’ scores of them.

At first glance, this can sting because you are essentially learning that your perception of yourself is greater than your colleagues' perception of you which may cause one to think “I must not be as good as I think I am” or “My colleagues must not realize all of the things I do to be strong in this area.”

For most people, the answer is somewhere in the middle. 

When my team and I at Ambition In Motion facilitate mentorship programs, we also include a 360-Degree Assessment and report to each participant. We do this for two reasons: 1) these reports can help reveal opportunities for growth in one’s professional skill set, and 2) deep self-reflection is a major launching pad for fostering vulnerability in a mentor relationship. These two components are crucial to developing strong, valuable mentor relationships. 

The 5 core areas we measure in our 360-Degree Assessment are: People Management, Innovation, Leadership Ability, Communication Skills, and Financial Management.

Next, I’ll explain the significance of each of these categories, and then suggest ways that someone can learn after finding out they are overestimating their abilities in each category. This should be an opportunity for growth and understanding, not a time to be defensive and stubborn.

Leadership Ability

Leadership ability is an important skill for any professional, regardless of whether you hold an official leadership position. Leadership ability is based on one’s ability to set proper expectations for their work and communicate those expectations clearly and effectively. Skilled leaders demonstrate their ability to motivate others towards a purpose that benefits everyone, their willingness to take accountability when things go wrong, and the modesty to give credit when things go right.

If you overestimated your leadership abilities, it means that you gave yourself a moderate score while your colleagues rated you low or you gave yourself a high score and your colleagues rated you moderate to low.

You rated yourself moderately

You may think that if you aren’t in a leadership role that you don’t need to focus on your leadership ability. However, leadership ability goes beyond your title.

You may have thought that if you perform as expected that you could justify giving yourself a moderate leadership ability score. However, if your colleagues rated you low, they clearly disagree, and this is an important opportunity for growth.

Leadership ability is all about transparency, accountability, and the ability to give credit to others.

The reason why possessing a leadership title is not necessary to possess strong leadership abilities is because great leadership is about being a great colleague to work with. 

Have you ever worked with somebody whose work you relied on, but you were unclear on what they would deliver, when they would deliver it, or how they would deliver it? What about somebody that’s full to the brim with excuses? Anytime anything goes wrong, they immediately blame others or come up with excuses for why it didn’t work out. Or have you ever worked with somebody that consistently takes all of the credit and doesn’t mention you or anyone else on your team who worked hard? You don’t want to be that person! Just because others do it, doesn’t mean you should too.

Think about how most people act in their first 2 weeks at a new job. They are probably excited to throw themselves at the work in front of them, and they are open to taking accountability when things go wrong because they have the fair excuse of being new. They will likely set (potentially over-optimistic) expectations about their work with everyone and because they don’t want to let anyone down, make a strong effort to meet those expectations. They also will be focused on giving credit to those they work with when things go well because they want to make positive first impressions. What they lack in experience at the workplace is made up for in earnest commitment to doing good work with their coworkers. 

Being a strong leader is being like that…just all the time and not just in the first two weeks at a new job. People like that are much more enjoyable to work with, give others less anxiety, and have confidence because they have earned the credibility and respect of those they work with.

You rated yourself highly

If you rated yourself highly in your leadership abilities and your colleagues rated you moderately or low, you are probably not as strong of a leader as you think you are. 

People in this situation typically have read leadership books, have gone to seminars, and have seen motivational speakers. They, theoretically, know all of the keys to be a strong leader, but when it comes to the application of those theories, their efforts simply aren’t ringing true with those they work with. And when it comes down to it, that’s the only part that matters. 

Because they have the knowledge of what it means to be a strong leader, they tend to rate themselves highly. But, when there is a gap and their colleagues disagree with their self-assessment, it is natural to feel defensive about this disparity.

The question one needs to ask themselves if they are faced with this situation is “why is there this gap?”. Or put another way “what am I doing that I feel is exuding strong leadership traits?” and then “How could my colleagues not perceive those actions in the way I am perceiving them?”.

In some cases, people feel like they are showing strong leadership abilities, but their colleagues perceive those efforts as the standard tasks that anyone would do. If this is the case then a discussion around expectations needs to be had between the professional and their colleagues. If you feel like you are going out of your way to being a strong leader, but others perceive those efforts as standard operating procedures, you probably need to update your expectations. Instead of treating those actions as “above and beyond” (because maybe they were “above and beyond” at a previous employer), try to trust your colleagues and trust their assessment. That means finding new ways to demonstrate your leadership abilities that make a difference in the work being done by your colleagues.  

In other cases, people feel like they are showcasing leadership abilities with their actions, but nobody is noticing. This is a difficult argument to make because leadership is an inherently public task. Essentially, when something goes wrong and you take accountability, you should be taking accountability publicly and fairly with others to view and observe. If you are taking accountability “quietly”, you aren’t really taking accountability because the nature of accountability is ownership over the responsibility so others know who they are counting on, for better or for worse. If you are giving credit “behind the scenes”, you are giving credit, but not in a way that fully exemplifies your leadership ability. Your willingness to praise publicly and fairly means that you are willing to put your reputation on the line in front of an audience to give credit to someone else. If you are setting your expectations on a case-by-case basis for the exact same work from different people, you are opening yourself to favoritism (intentional or not) and building a reputation for inconsistency. Your willingness to set consistent, public, and fair expectations both for your own work and from others’ work demonstrates that you hold yourself and others to the same standards.

Therefore, leadership ability should be a very noticeable activity, and if people aren’t noticing, then you aren’t leading. If that’s the case, you need to work to make sure that people notice without you incidentally seeming pompous or outlandish in your actions. This will take some work, and you may have some missteps, but the key is to keep trying to improve each day.

To improve your leadership ability, focus on immediately taking accountability when things go wrong (even if it isn’t directly your fault). If you had anything to do with something not going right, you can take accountability for it publicly. 

Focus on setting clear expectations for others for what you expect from their work and what they should expect from yours. You can set clear timelines for when others should expect your work to be finished and provide useful details so they can know what to expect. This will help build trust and ensure that your colleagues know what to expect from you, which then can mean that you know what to expect from their work as well. 

Set aside time to think about who has been working hard and accomplishing difficult tasks (even if they aren’t publicly recognized) and give credit, publicly, to those people for working so hard. For example, oftentimes in sales, we give a lot of credit to those making the sale, but those people in supply chain, operations, or account management don’t get the credit they deserve for implementing the delivery of the product. 

In essence, overestimating your abilities in these categories does not mean that you will forever be this way, but it does mean that there are opportunities for growth that you must tap into if you would like to improve. 
Sun 28 November 2021
I was fortunate enough to be invited as a guest on the IBJ podcast a month ago to discuss the topic of the Great Resignation and why people are making career changes in droves. One of the consistent themes my fellow guest, Mandy Haskins, and I identified was how critical of a role that the manager plays in whether people stay or go.

One of the most important components for being a strong manager that engages their team and helps them feel connected to the work is their ability to have effective one-on-one meetings with their direct reports. 

This article is going to explain why having one-on-one meetings between managers and direct reports is so critical to being a strong manager. Next, I’ll present some tips on how to have effective one-on-ones and how you can assess the quality of those important meetings.

Gallup came out with research that identified that 70% of employee engagement variance is based on the relationship between the manager and that employee. The adage “people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses” is absolutely true. And the best way to ensure that you are consistently connecting with and having a pulse on your people is by having regular 1:1 meetings with direct reports to understand their feelings about work and their own path within the organization.

What is 1:1?

A 1:1 is time taken between a manager and direct report to discuss updates between each other and their overall feelings about the work. However, not all managers treat these meetings with the same significance. Some managers define a 1:1 as a quick chat about upcoming tasks. On the other hand, some other managers create an agenda to discuss key components of the employee’s work, keep notes from previous conversations to follow up on, and share a vision for the employee (and have the employee share a vision with them) that includes their role in the organization and their role within the particular team or department. 

The problem here is that the difference between the former and latter examples of 1:1’s is vast: you simply can’t get a good read on the situation without putting in the work to have effective 1:1’s. So I wanted to take some time to identify what an effective 1:1 looks like, what you should be discussing, and how you can assess the value of those meetings over time.

What does an effective 1:1 look like?

An effective 1:1 is a meeting between manager and direct where report the manager has asked the direct report to share some updates about their work and tasks to the manager before the meeting has started (i.e., updates on goals, perceptions of task performance, team productivity, team cohesion, and feelings about their ability to help others without being asked - organizational citizenship). This key step gives the manager context on to what has been accomplished since their last meeting and how they are feeling about work from a high level.

When the manager and direct report meet, the manager has questions prepared to ask their direct report that will help the manager better understand any gaps between the manager’s perspective and the direct report’s experience. For example, consider a case where a direct report shared before the 1:1 that they are feeling a little down on their task performance this month. However, their manager feels that the individual did a fine job and didn’t notice any signs of lower task performance. Effective managers can learn more about the cause of this gap in perception by asking questions like these in the next 1:1 meeting:

·         What areas do you think you performed well this past month and what areas do you think you could improve?
·         What aspects of your work do you like most? How do they play into your strengths and vision for where you'd like to be?
·         How do you feel about your work and the people you work with?
·         What areas of your work would benefit from greater clarity from myself or other team members?

What is critical about the questions a manager has prepared for the conversation is that they are not simple yes/no questions, nor are they “why” questions. Yes/no questions are not as effective in a 1:1 because managing and understanding your direct reports requires some curiosity from the manager to get useful answers. Binary questions leave out the details that provide needed context and understanding between manager and direct report. 

“Why” questions are also not as effective in a 1:1 because they insinuate that something needs to be justified. For example, if the manager would have asked “Why do you think you performed poorly over the past month?”, the subsequent response involves backtracking and providing a justification for why they scored themselves the way they did. It puts the employee on the defensive and hampers shared understanding. It also disincentives’ employees from being honest in future conversations and doesn’t lead to any greater understanding between manager and direct reports. What/How/Who questions are much more effective for 1:1’s because they emphasize curiosity and help a direct report feel comfortable sharing an honest assessment of themselves, their team, and their experience.

How does one measure the impact of a 1:1?

Management simply doesn’t allow for some one-size-fits-all scientific solution. Management is more of an art that needs to be adjusted on a case-by-case basis to fit their direct reports, their work, and work culture. At Ambition In Motion, we have created a tool that helps managers better understand their direct reports’ core feelings about work over time (updates on goals, feelings about their task performance, feelings about the team productivity and cohesion, and feelings about their ability to help others without being asked - organizational citizenship) called AIM Insights. 

One thing we have found to be really effective with the tool is when we measure the correlation between the number of 1:1’s had and their employees’ change in responses month-over-month trends for those core feelings on work. When there is a positive correlation, that would mean that the more meetings that manager has with that direct report, the higher the direct reports’ scores are (which means they should have more 1:1’s with that employee). When there is a negative correlation that would mean that the content and quality of those meetings need to change to help improve that employee’s feelings about work.

Of course, there are other factors that can impact how an employee is feeling at work, beyond their relationship with their manager, so this can’t solve every challenge an employee is facing at work.

However, refer back to the Gallup statistic – 70% of employee engagement variance is based on the relationship between manager and direct report. Measuring this every month can help a manager find the right communication style and cadence that works best for each direct report. This, in turn, can help managers better understand their employees, improve their engagement levels, and increase retention. As the relationship between employees and employers continues to change and evolve, I’m sure that the “winners” of the great resignation will be the managers who adapt and thrive: they will keep their best employees, develop up-and-coming stars, and provide a prime landing spot for anybody that’s sick of the old paradigm.

Tue 19 April 2022
Congratulations, you’re in charge of your team now! The dynamic at work is changing, but don’t worry, you got this! 
If you want your direct reports to respect you, it’s important that you first show them the respect that they deserve. 
Actively treating all of your workers fairly, demonstrating your value for them through your words and actions, listening to their concerns and addressing them as best you can will set you apart as a leader that they can trust and respect. 
Garrett Mintz, founder of Ambition in Motion, discusses the way that the best leaders are the ones who dole out credit and take accountability for things that don’t go the way that they’re supposed to. 
“It’s a beautiful thing when the leader doesn’t care who gets the credit,” said in a TikTok duet about leadership with Garrett Mintz and Josh Lewis, Management Consultant.
 
=> Want more videos like this? Join our Mailing List to be part of our Executive Mastermind Group. Click the link to sign up for our newsletter: https://buff.ly/3FZfhcq 
 
            At Ambition in Motion, we don’t control the content of one’s work but we can have an impact on how people interact with each other at work. 
            At your company, you are in charge of your direct reports! The respect that you receive from them must be earned, and it begins with your ability to be confident in your actions and malleable to your new work environment. 
 
How can I get my direct reports to respect me as a leader? 
-       Give out Credit 
-       Take Accountability
 
What does it mean to take accountability? 
            Being “accountable” is more than just taking responsibility, or being reliable. 
Several veins run through a truly accountable leader. 
Accountability is a skill that requires leaders to own up to a team’s actions, decisions, and mistakes. It’s also the ability to follow up on the commitments you have made within an organization and its people. 
As a leader of others, you are actively representing your organization, and promoting the quality of work that you aim to produce and to be produced by others. When things do not go according to plan, take the initiative to be the first to shine a light on the opportunity to grow, as a team.
 
What does it mean to give out credit?
            The best leaders give credit to others, they don’t take credit for themselves. 
            When you represent a team of people, one of your biggest goals is to encourage them to be the best that they can be. Just as your team is learning and growing, you are also learning how you can help them best grow and reach their highest potential by remaining malleable to their work processes. Every member of your term plays an important role in the execution of your overall goal; the more respect and power that you give to them, the more success you will find. 
            However, mistakes happen. A leader who assumes the blame, and passes the credit, send a message that mistakes are OK and that when they happen, it will be an opportunity to learn and grow. By inspiring those in your charge, your employees will emulate your best traits, which will include assuming the blame for themselves.
            The best leaders inspire others and give credit. 
 
Why is it important that I give credit and take accountability?
            Giving credit and taking accountability sets yourself apart from the team, as a guide toward your team’s overall success. The more emphasis that you put on guiding your team, rather than showcasing your leadership (by taking credit or blaming others for mistakes), the more respect you will gain from your direct reports. Check out these leadership tips: 
 
  1. Encourage your team 
            Earning your team’s respect starts with building a trusting and positive community within the team. 
Encouraging and promoting others to do their best and work together also boosts productivity because it makes employees feel less isolated and helps them to feel more engaged with their tasks.
By creating a positive and supportive work environment, your direct reports will not only trust and respect you, but they will also work harder to produce good results as they aim to live up to the high standards that you hold for them. 
 
2. Recognize and praise good work
Although it’s important to give credit to your team, public praise is great for both recognition and learning. When you publicly share specifically what was great and why it was great, not only does it have more meaning for the person being praised, but it helps the whole team learn something new.
Remember to provide details about what the person did, the impact, and the context so that the whole team learns.
When you recognize good work, you remind your team what you’re working towards, and what they’re doing right, which in turn, inspires them to keep doing better. This plethora of inspiration and praise allows for a more open-minded environment for idealization between you and your direct reports. 
Looking for a more efficient way to evaluate performance reviews within your company? Ambition in Motion offers the software, AIM Insights reports, ensuring visibility over all ongoing activities: task performance, manager performance, organizational citizenship, team performance, and goals for direct reports. Click here to learn more about how you can simplify your performance review process! 
 
3. Correct in private
Although praise is an extremely important part of your relationships with your direct reports, it is normal for things to go wrong sometimes! However, it’s important to correct people’s mistakes in private, and then later emphasize to the team what they should avoid, without calling anyone out personally. 
Private criticism is important in order to be kind and clear. Radical Candor is not the same thing as “front-stabbing”, and it’s much kinder to criticize someone in private. 
Public criticism can feel unnecessarily harsh. Private criticism will also be clearer because it’s much less likely to trigger a person’s defense mechanisms.
 
4. Acknowledge workplace adaptation
Yes, you have new direct reports! 
Yes, the workplace dynamic is different now. Own it! 
As a new manager, it’s important to remember that just as your team is learning to adjust to you, you are also learning to adjust to them and your new position.
Do not be afraid to emphasize this learning curve to your team. In order to create a culture of respect that encourages growth and high levels of success, it’s your job to make learning a part of your daily routine in the workplace. 
Learning helps people keep a broad perspective. 
An important part of your job is to know that your direct reports are counting on you to guide them. When mistakes are made, it is no one’s fault (including you), but as a manager, you make a promise to your team to lead them in the right direction as best you can, meaning you must learn to take accountability for team mistakes. However, this is a positive part of your job! Not only will you take accountability for mistakes, but you will do it with pride, and emphasize a learning curve in everything that you do, and everything that your team does; mistakes are OK! 
 
5. Be transparent about your motives  
            Transparent communication is the act of both good and bad information being shared upward, downward, and laterally in a way that allows all to see the why behind the words. 
A workplace with transparent communication is a more collaborative and trustworthy workplace, with information being openly shared between employees and across levels of the organization. 
Transparent communication also allows employees to be more innovative since they are more informed. Additionally, transparent communication encourages others to communicate openly and increases the sharing of ideas. 
When transparent communication is present between you and your direct reports, you allow the workplace to be collectively informed about the true happenings within the organization in order for them to align their actions accordingly, ultimately making your job easier and removing any confusion about the team’s overall goals.
 
 
            These leader tips will help you set the grounds for a positive, encouraging work environment. 
Real accountability requires leaders to take responsibility and pride in the art of encouraging and guiding their employees. Being an accountable leader is not as easy as it may sound, but it is necessary to bring genuine value to your team of employees and your organization as a whole. However, taking responsibility and giving out credit whenever possible will set you apart from other leaders, and enable your direct reports to respond positively to your leadership.
Thu 26 May 2022
I’ve had the privilege to work a few different jobs in both managerial positions and entry-level positions. I’m sure that you can relate to me in feeling that some managers were great at what they do, while others weren’t as great. The old adage of “People don’t leave bad jobs; they leave bad managers” continues to hold true. According to research by The Ken Blanchard Companies, the average organization is 50% as effective thanks to less than optimal leadership.  

How does a bad Manager get appointed?

                To understand the cause of these terrible managers, you need to understand what the key problem here is. The way that managers are trained and appointed simply is not enough and sets them up for failure. 

Take a standard software firm for example, and a specific account executive named Jake. Jake is particularly good at closing deals, with very little haggling required, and on top of that, is responsible for a majority of the company sales. So, upper-level management chooses to give him a reward somehow. If Jake is capable of doing all of this, imagine what he could teach his coworkers to do right? So the administration chooses to promote Jake to a sales manager, responsible for managing other account executives and training new associates. 

                Unfortunately, Jake has no experience in developing people and the patience it requires. He just knows how to sell software. However, since he knows his methodology works wonders, he decides to teach everyone how to use his method, and boost sales. But his jokes just don’t sound the same out of other people’s mouths, and the charm he uses just feels off. And since he has no time to sell software himself, the company is making fewer sales. Ultimately, many of the sales associates choose to leave because they don’t like the command and control style of leadership Jake has deployed and those that stay aren’t meeting quotas because nobody is as good at selling using the “Jake method” as good as Jake is.

                The key takeaway here is that high performance individually does not necessarily translate into high performance as a manager. Unfortunately, promotion is often used as a reward for high performance, with increased pay used as an additional incentive. Therefore, the individuals who may actually have manager potential (based on their ability to develop people) get overlooked because they aren’t rockstar individual contributors. 

                Finding a good candidate for management can be tricky. However, training new managers can be successful. Performance evaluation software such as AIM insights can help your new managers get coached and develop the skills they need to effectively lead their team based on the data their direct reports are sharing in the tool. Using tools such as this can help you identify who is particularly good at working with a team, or who works well with many different types of orientations of workers. 

How can a good manager still be failed by upper administration?

Regardless of how skilled a manager may be, if they aren’t properly set up for success, they may still not be well prepared for their new role, at the company’s expense. A manager is not born into the world with perfect skills. They may naturally be able to work with other people, but they still need to be trained. The best way to think about a manager is as a person, but also as an investment. Would you choose to buy a house that has a lot of space, but no bathrooms? It’s a very similar concept. A manager candidate has a lot of potential, but not necessarily the exact skills needed for the role. Fortunately, these can be easily trained. 
Training a manager involves a few different subjects. These subjects include some of the following:
·         How to have effective 1:1’s and soft skills
·         Training new employees
·         How to give a performance review

All of these subjects are critical to ensure the best possible manager. Can you imagine how bad an incompetent manager could be? Fortunately, you don’t have to imagine as such. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, 84% of U.S workers say that poorly trained managers create much more unnecessary work and stress for them. Interact even researched poor managers and found that 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees and would prefer to not give any direct feedback unless absolutely necessary. These managers have been failed. With adequate training, they could have been truly amazing. However, because they failed to go through a proper vetting process, and then a training process, they quite simply are not capable enough to assume such an important role. 

The way we train our managers is nowhere near where it should be at this point in time. It is just too important of a role to not give due diligence to. Understanding how to choose a good manager, and then how to train them will be the best course of action for the future. Only through this can we hope to create a better work culture for the future. 

Wed 13 July 2022
More and more senior leaders are pushing for increased credentials from their managerial staff. In 2020, 43% of US firms had business managers holding an MBA or some form of advanced business degree.  This is almost twice that of the percentage in 1980, which was 26%. 

Recently, companies and schools have been creating certification programs in lieu of these postgraduate programs. These include Cornell’s business strategy certification, Harvard’s Executive Education Certification program, and Ambition in Motion’s AIM Insights People Leadership Certification. How do you choose what type of education you want? How do you choose between an MBA and a people leadership program?

The costs of an MBA vs the costs of a Certification

It goes without saying that college is expensive. An MBA holds true to this statement. According to Experian, the average tuition cost of an MBA is $66,300. However, this is an average and falls victim to outliers. The online MBA program from the University of Texas Rio Valley is relatively inexpensive $17,000. However, the MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania costs $161,810. 

MBA Today lists that among the top 30 MBA programs, the cheapest one would be $55,727 for a full-time two-year program. This means that working will be much more difficult due to academic commitments. In addition to tuition and administrative fees, students need to pay for textbooks, supplies, any equipment (such as laptops, computers, electronics), and transportation. If you are required to relocate to study in this MBA program, you may also need to pay for moving costs and rent. Out-of-state students may even need to pay additional tuition.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over 50% of graduate students take out student loans for an MBA program and complete their programs with an average of $74,707 in debt. 

 In contrast, a leadership certification program rarely leaves the 4-figure mark at all. According to CIO,  the costs of these programs range from $1800 to $5700, while the leadership coaching for executive training ranges between $150 an hour to $500 an hour. There are generally no textbooks or supply costs, and most definitely no moving costs. Certification programs have the capability to be held completely online. 

In addition to this is the cost of lost wages. During a full-time MBA, it is difficult to hold a job, and you will often have to teach a course at the school you are matriculating in. At the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, full-time MBA students are required to teach managerial and financial accounting courses to undergraduate students. This holds true for many other schools. 

Under a certification program, you can actually hold your position and continue work as normal, since it will allow you to practice skills that are taught in these courses. Therefore, you don’t lose any wages.

Applications

Applying to an MBA program is completely different than applying for a certification program. An MBA program has a much more comprehensive application process and runs the risk of applicant rejection. 

Most MBA programs require either a Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT for short, or a Graduate Record Examinations, or GRE. Some schools actually require scores for both examinations. Applicants are also required to provide letters of recommendation from managers, colleagues, and mentors, and potentially provide references as well. In addition to this, undergraduate grade point averages are taken into consideration. Finally, to complete the first stage of the application, applicants are then required to write a statement of intent, which is similar to an undergraduate college application essay. 

After all of this is completed, applicants then need to wait a few months, and may have the opportunity to be granted an interview. Most MBA programs require an interview before officially accepting a student. The acceptance rate for the interview stage ranges from 34% to 75% in the top 20 MBA programs. The averages end up being a 62% rate of acceptance.  After a long and grueling interview, you have between a 10% and 40% chance of being accepted. 

A certification program is much easier. Simply verify your identity, provide billing information, and register for the course. If there is an executive coaching portion to the program, your company may have to meet some performance metrics as well. 

Time Commitment

The average MBA program takes about two years to fully complete, assuming that it is a full-time program. Online MBAs or Hybrid MBA programs can take a while longer. During this time, expect a majority of your day to be occupied by classes, homework, research, as well as any other responsibilities required by your programs, such as being a Teaching Assistant or an exam proctor. 

People leader certifications are more fluid. Since you can view most of the coursework asynchronously, or entirely online, you determine how long the program will take. If there are executive coaching or mentorship programs in your certification, you may have to give up an hour per month or a period of time similar to this.  

The Curriculum of an MBA vs the Curriculum of a Certification Program

Courses for an MBA are often very generalized, with a skill set focused on financial management and structural management.  Some of the courses include the following:

1)      Business Essentials
2)      Exploring Business Strategies
3)      Marketing for the 21st Century
4)      Business and Law
5)      Management Analytics
6)      Management Accounting
 
           These are all important topics and can definitely add value to a company if a manager executes them correctly. However, an MBA doesn’t necessarily help with soft skills and isn’t marketable in all scenarios. If you want practical and applied skills, an MBA isn’t for you.  For example, if you are working as a manager in a field outside of finance, such as in a scientific field, or engineering, it would be best to either get a leadership certification or a degree more relevant to that workplace.
            
            A people leadership certification utilizes soft skills and is much more specialized than an MBA. Examples of topics covered in a certification course include the following:
 
1)      Personal Leadership
2)      Intercultural Leadership
3)      Service Leadership
4)      Strategic Planning
5)      Conflict Negotiation and Resolution
6)      Organization
 
            These topics are frequently discussed and encountered in the workplace and are important points to address with your direct reports, peers, and superiors. 

Conclusion

            Without a doubt, an MBA can be a very powerful tool, and in the right hands, can dramatically improve a company. However, with all of the expenses and rigor in mind, along with the focus, it is also best to consider if a people leadership certification might be a better fit for you. Neither is worse than the other, but some may be better in certain scenarios. Evaluate yourself, and your ambitions. 

Fri 16 September 2022
When CEOs describe their company as being “like family,” they mean well with the idea. They’re searching for a model that represents the kind of relationships they want to have with their employees, a lifetime relationship with a sense of belonging. But using the term family makes it easy for misunderstandings to arise.
In a real family, parents can’t fire their children. Try to imagine disowning your child for poor performance: “We’re sorry daughter, but your mom and I have decided you’re just not a good fit. Your table-setting effort has been deteriorating for the past 6 months, and your obsession with ponies just isn’t adding any value. We’re going to have to let you go. But don’t take it the wrong way; it’s just family.”
Unthinkable, right? But that’s essentially what happens when a CEO describes the company as a family, then institutes strict policies and/or layoffs. Regardless of the situation, a “family-like” work culture will leave employees feeling hurt and betrayed. 
 
Why your company shouldn’t be a family
●       Families are dysfunctional. How many truly high-functioning families are you aware of? There are always a few weird uncles dragging the average down. Family situations are much different than professional ones. 
●       Families are impossible to get out of. There is a lot of safety in families because they’re something you’re born into and can never be born out of. However, this is the wrong kind of safety to cultivate. “Unconditional love” means you will put up with quite a bit of nonsense, bad work, and even poor effort. Yes, the goal is for your employees to feel safe in that they always know where they stand and they always know they can tell you the truth. However, you don’t want them feeling safe enough to be content with subpar performance.
●       Families instill too much loyalty. Some amount of loyalty is commendable, but families can often take this to the extreme. You don’t want employees so loyal to you that they’re unwilling to push back if you start making questionable decisions. You also don’t want employees so loyal to you that they have no drive to improve, thereby stagnating in their roles. As a leader, you want people that are willing to contribute, not just follow you blindly. 
 
Why your company should be a team
●       Teams are built around a common goal. First off, teams are built, not born. Presumably, you have a strong company mission in place, something you’re all working towards. Teams have goals – namely, to win. Families are typically more lenient.
●       You need people that can jump in and do just about anything, even if they can’t do it all well. As you grow, you need more specialists. You are constantly hiring people who are better than you at particular skills. There will be times when you grow to a size where some of your more tenured employees are no longer needed to take the company to the next level. This is a hard truth, but it’s also a natural part of building a team. Unless you’re a horrible person, it can be incredibly difficult to recognize and respond to employees that helped to build you into what you are today, but don’t have a clear future at the company.
●       Players choose you just as much as you choose them. You can join a team. You can’t join a family. A good team starts at the top, with ownership. That’s you. Hire good coaches, treat them well, and always work to improve, and the rest will trickle down.
 
 
Mission Drives and Improves Engagement
Employees who fall in love with their work experience have higher productivity levels and engagement, and they express loyalty to the company as they remain longer, costing the organization less over time. 
According to Marie-Claire Ross, Trust Leadership Speaker, mission-driven workers are 54 percent more likely to stay for five years at a company and 30 percent more likely to grow into high performers than those who arrive at work with only their paycheck as the motivator.
High-performance organizations are linked to being mission-driven companies. Mission statements must reflect a commitment to higher social good for the community they serve, both local and global. Authenticity and transparency build trust.
According to Deloitte, organizations high in trust are 2.5 times more likely to function as high-performance organizations with revenue growth than lower-performance organizations. Eighty-one percent of those working for companies with a strong mission stated their stakeholders hold trust in their leadership team, whereas that number was 54 percent for organizations without a strong mission.
Companies that cultivate a strong work culture driven by deep engagement and meaningful work find success, beat the competition, and retain and attract high-performing talent.
 
Are You a Leader Who Drives a Mission?
Many employees go to work to do their job and earn their take-home pay. How do employees feel beyond this point? What is the work experience like? Do they feel their job adds value to life? All of these factors are highly important to determining success.
Mission-driven leaders ingrain the “why” and “how” of an organization’s existence beyond the mere “what” of providing a product. They assist with aligning the team and individual employee to-dos with the mission, and the mission may have several interpretations among employees. 
Connection to the mission is commonly linked to why any given employee wanted to work for the company in the first place. Nurture those reasons and unite them with the company mission.
Thu 22 September 2022
As interest rates rise and consumer spending habits change, rumors of a recession have started to emerge as a strong possibility for the coming months.

Regardless of whether a recession happens, the mere rumors of a recession can have a massive impact on our employees and their feelings about work, and managers should be considering how to adapt their leadership style to handle any economic worries by their direct reports.

On a high level, below are a list of things that typically happen when there are concerns of a recession:

·        Companies go on hiring freezes or begin laying people off – Companies tend to hire based on what they believe they will need so when a recession strikes and their projections are incorrect, they are forced to change course and lay people off as they adjust their projections.
·        Employee confidence diminishes – Strong economies with low unemployment help employees feel confident asking for higher wages and greater perks.
·        Teams are consolidated – Companies create departments and teams based on projected growth, but when economies start to slow, teams tend to be merged, people are laid off and those remaining must pick up the additional workload. 

Some companies and industries and going to be more impacted than others. If you lead a team and feel that your direct reports show some concern about the economy, this article covers how to be a better leader in times of uncertainty.

As a professional, I am a firm believer that you are an entrepreneur of your own life. I am not writing that everyone should be an entrepreneur, but as a person, you have full agency to make the decisions that you believe are best for you. When it comes to work, especially if you lead a team, it is critical that you do your own research to identify if the company you work for will thrive for the foreseeable future.

For example, one of the executives in our mastermind group works for a company that does COVID tests. This business model boomed over the past few years, but as fewer people get COVID tests, our leader has recognized that something needs to change for his team to continue working for their company. 

As opposed to doing the same thing over and over again as business dwindles, he is being completely candid with his team. He has been identifying business opportunities that he and his company can pursue based on the infrastructure they have created over the past few years. Essentially, he is becoming an intrapreneur – or a person who is pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities within a company.

This openness, honesty, and candor has caused his team to feel excited about the work they are doing. They still complete the tasks that keep the lights on, but they are taking the additional time they have from diminished business and putting that towards identifying new opportunities they can leverage and deploy. 

Many of the ideas proposed won’t work out, but it is much better than doing nothing and hoping it works out. His team has greater clarity and understanding regarding the business’s health and prospects, and most employees are staying and trying to help find a new path for this business.

This team is still searching for the next business model that will reinvigorate their business, but this isn’t solely a task for the leadership team anymore. Now, the entire company can be a part of the solution.

Therefore, to recap, when your team feels uncertainty because of a potential recession:

1.      Lean into the concerns and share openly and candidly why the company’s current way of operating won’t be affected by a recession (e.g. if you work in healthcare or grocery, you can share multiple data points that show that those industries tend to be minimally affected by a recession) or what you are doing to pivot and stay agile even if a recession does come.
2.      Incorporate your team in the innovation process when it comes to identifying ways to cut costs and increase revenue (laying people off has a very negative impact on employee morale and confidence).
3.      Understand the risks and benefits because if your team is unsuccessful at effectively pivoting, your employees will understand why they are being laid off. The benefit of incorporating your team in the innovation process is that they will feel that they had a chance (an opportunity!) to help be a part of the solution that turned the company around as opposed to being left in the dark and then one day getting laid off.

The key when identifying the opportunities to innovate and pivot is to explicitly lay out the risk tolerance you have for ideas. You may not have a million dollars to test out every idea, but you might have $1,000 and that could be enough to garner some early data points of success or failure. Risk tolerance also applies to legal risk. Our executive in our mastermind group is in the healthcare space which has rules and regulations companies must follow. It is critical that your team understands those rules and regulations before trying different ideas.

·        Set up both team and 1:1 meetings to meet with your direct reports to ask them if they have concerns and if so, what concerns do they have. Don’t avoid the conversation because a solution is unknown.  
·        Once you have gathered all of the concerns shared, craft a response for each concern. A response could be why the current way the company operates won’t be affected by the concern proposed, a potential solution that is being implemented that should alleviate the concern, or incorporate them in the solution process to help alleviate the concern as a group.
·        Clearly lay out a plan for your team for what the next 3, 6, 9, and 12 months will look if a recession has little to no effect on the company, a moderate effect on the company, and a major effect on the company. The worst thing you can give your team is uncertainty so crafting this projection allows them to fully understand and prepare for the worst possible outcome (which is never as scary as the unknown negative possibilities they could come up with in their minds).

Regardless of whether or not you are right, people will follow those that are certain. Certainty can come in the form of processes, inclusion in the solution, metrics that show why things will be fine, or projections for the best, moderate, and worst-case scenarios. 

As a leader of people during times of uncertainty, you must give people certainty.
Thu 13 October 2022
It is not easy for most of us to ask for help or money. Often, the leading blocker holding leaders back is some sort of fear. Unknown fears can keep us from even taking a step into the uncomfortable to objectively seek to understand the problem our team is facing, which means our teams will continue to operate at sub-optimal levels.

Face your Fears First

It is good to first take a step back and become self-aware of what might be holding us back from understanding some concerning trends on the team. It’s hard to think clearly about a problem if blinded by subconscious fear. Get curious about what is coming up for you by asking yourself some of the following questions:

  • Are you trying to be perfect?
  • Is there someone you are trying to please? 
  • What is a time in the past that you had a similar situation and you successfully navigated through it? What did you do then that might help you now? 
  • Imagine the worst-case scenario, and what ideas could help you avoid that from happening? 
  • Or, visualize a happy outcome, and talk through with someone what steps led you there. 

In doing this, you are becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. You can start to outline some next steps to understand how to face your fears and ask the right questions that lead to discovery, solution identification and action.

Problem and Solution Identified, Now What?

Leaders often get stuck here. In our previous blog, we discussed how to build a business case. During this process, it is important to identify who has the authority to approve the budget for the business case, and who the project will impact. When mapping this out, you will often find leaders who are both impacted and need to approve. Once you have identified who these are, reach out to them and include them into the process of building your business case. Before your discussion meetings, be sure to plan in advance, so you can tailor your conversation to the audience.

Get to Know your Audience

For each key individual you plan to speak with, create an outline of who they are in preparation of your meeting.  You can do this by answering the following questions: 

  • Is this individual an early adopter and open to change, or typically avoids change?
  • What is the key business objective this person is currently focused on? 
  • What motivates this person? What do they value? What do they care about?
  • How does your proposed solution positively help this individual more effectively, or efficiently obtain their key business objective?
  • If we don’t focus on this solution, what will block us from successfully meeting business critical quarterly targets?
  • How does this person best communicate and take in information? Do they need to see data in advance, and have time to reflect before the conversation? Or, do they like to brainstorm and want to feel like a key collaborator?
  • What is the authority approval this person has in the final purchase decision?
  • What questions or objections do you anticipate they will have about your proposed solution? How do you plan to respond to these?

In answering these questions in advance, you now may see common themes that build into your open questions and speaking points for the agenda of the meeting. You may see some commonalities amongst the key individuals and decide a group meeting might be better. However, if someone is typically negative to change and is the main budget approver. You may want to have a pre-meeting with them, in which you just ask open questions to obtain better answers to the above questions. You may want to ask questions that guide them to self awareness around the problem, and get their insight and feedback into the solutioning in order to obtain buy in. 

Understand the Budget Appetite

As you step through these conversations, you want to be respectful, and transparent. You don’t want individuals to feel like you are going around them. The goal is to create a shared common objective and collaboratively build a business case that already has your approvers buy in. 

As you move to build the business case, you should naturally get a sense for the budget appetite of the individuals. In your conversations with them, you should have a sense for the following: 

  • Is there a budget range we can work within for this?
  • What have we typically spent in the past for similar sized projects?
  • Is there budget left unused that we could reallocate for this project?
  • Is there anyone else who needs to approve, that maybe you missed?

Be sure to ease into the budget conversations, at this point they should have a sense of the shared common pain and gap, and that without this solution no one will be successful in meeting their targets. 

Crossing the Finish Line

If you have made it to this point, you have been working with your key approvers to obtain feedback and buy in into the creation of your business case. You know the budget range, and the approval chain. If you sense hesitancy, remain curious and ask open ended questions to understand what remaining questions may be keeping you from a Yes. It may be as simple as the group is risk adverse, and wants to try out the solution with a pilot group first. Adjust your business case, accordingly, and then work to finalize. This iterative approach will help your case be stronger, ensure you didn’t miss any blindspots, show your ability to influence cross-functionally and bring people together to create a win/win outcome.


Fri 4 November 2022
Physical health has been at the forefront of management programs and labor laws for quite some time.  Recently, many individuals in the workforce have been prioritizing their mental health and also choosing to resign from their jobs, especially during the time of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This occurred so frequently that University College London’s Professor Anthony Klotz termed this  phenomenon as “The Great Resignation.” 

            The Great Resignation is generally agreed to have started in early 2021, and as of November 2022 is still ongoing. The prioritization of mental health and consequent behaviors have also left managers in unique quandaries. Employees are more likely to resign, take more time off, schedule for more flexibility, or look for a new job. This primarily affects the age groups between 20 to 45, according to the Harvard Business Review. Consequently, this has the potential to affect managers severely, given that their workforce is primarily comprised of individuals within this age group, as stated by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. So how does a manager assist with their staff’s mental health, while also being a successful leader?

How a manager can assist with Mental Health

            A question that many managers ask themselves every day is “What is my purpose?” At the end of the day, the goal of a manager is to support and unify their staff towards a common role. While most managers are successful in attaining the latter, they often struggle with supporting their staff in terms of mental health. Here are some general suggestions for what a manager can do to help with this.

·       Be Approachable: Many managers have their own offices or workspaces, and as such, despite their attempts to remain close, they end up being further than anyone else. Institute an office hours policy and make yourself available to your employees during certain time periods.
·       Be Relatable: One of the great things for managers about the Great Resignation and pandemic is that it has made discussing mental health problems much more commonplace. Being honest about your own challenges can help employees recognize your priorities. Creating a company culture that is open to having dialogue about this can differentiate a business, and have several other benefits, such as  staff unification, better policy changes, and enhance the mental connection employees have with the business. This can improve retention and create a phenomenon known as affective commitment
·       Overcommunicate: According to Qualtrics,  “employees who felt their managers were not good at communicating have been 23% more likely than others to experience mental health declines.” Do not be afraid to provide clarifying details, and keep teams informed about organizational changes or updates. Be open during Employee 1:1s as well, and create a culture of checking in on fellow employees. It’s always been hard to read individuals, and with more remote workers than ever before, this problem is exacerbated.  
·       Recognize when someone isn’t doing well:  Different people react differently to pressure and added responsibilities. This is known as worker stress; while it manifests uniquely amongst individuals, there are some common signs and behaviors indicative of stress. 
a.      Reclusive Behavior- This does not include introverted behavior, but rather the contrast between this and previous behavior
b.     Change in  Body Language- This once again, does not necessarily mean introverted behavior,  but rather withdrawn activity, slumps, and similar posture.
c.      Personality Clashes- When someone is in distress or dealing with trauma, they may lash out at other people, or attempt to withhold their grief. 
d.     Change in Productivity- Trauma survivors tend to have harsh changes within how much work they can accomplish.

 

What should a manager do after discovering mental health problems?

            Once a manager has been made aware of someone struggling, it is up to them to deal with it in a compassionate and efficient way. No two individuals are the same, and as such, it is generally difficult to come up with a panacea for every single person.  Have 1:1s to attempt to determine the source of the problem, and if necessary, utilize performance improvement plans to help reduce stress on the employee. At the end of the day, while the work is important, a mindset that all managers must retain is that the employee’s well-being comes first. Moving responsibilities elsewhere, offering time off, and similar actions may appear to hurt the company in the short-term, but will create a sense of corporate loyalty, and also win over the employee. Even more importantly, it helps make the employee feel better, and keeps them healthy. 

 How can a manager prevent Mental health issues?

            Mental health issues will manifest themselves regardless of whatever a manager does. However, in a 2019 report done by SAP, the most desired mental health resources were a more open and accepting culture, clearer information about where to go or whom to ask for support, and training. 

            Many psychologists would say that common stressors are what eventually lead into mental health crises. Modifying these stressors ahead of time can really help with these problems. For example, looking into rules regarding leave and communication and modifying them to be clearer or more generous for direct reports can make a difference. Being direct with them can also help, especially when talking about how certain actions benefit them. 

In March of 2020, Katherine Maher, who serves as the CEO of Wikimedia sent an email company-wide to talk about how to mitigate stress. The key phrase here was “if you need to dial back, that’s okay.” There is a reason that Wikimedia is so well regarded by its employees. A company culture such as this is worth its weight in gold. While this email was written at the forefront of COVID-19, much of what was stated in it can still be applied today.

Mental health is a tricky field to operate around, especially when managers need to be as successful as they can be to ensure the continuance and prosperity of their business. However, if a manager properly prioritizes this, it can allow the company to benefit even more than if mental health hadn’t been prioritized.

For those struggling with mental health, dialing 211 can help with any crisis or questions related to this. It’s entirely okay to not be doing well, and getting help is the first step to solving this crisis.

Fri 11 November 2022
The definition of what it means to be a great business leader has evolved and changed significantly over time. Today, the best leaders are less authoritative and more empathic, often displaying more vulnerability than leaders did in the past.
Servant leadership is a relatively new concept that many leaders are embracing due to its effectiveness in managing and guiding teams. Here are a few reasons why servant leadership is beneficial for a company’s success.  
 
1. It Encourages Strategic Thinking and Innovation
 
A servant leader is willing to follow and does not need to always be in charge. They are civic-minded and ethical, and others are motivated to follow them. Servant leadership does not mean being submissive. True servant leadership encourages strategic thinking and innovation and helps develop others, which is why servant leadership is crucial for any large enterprise to embrace for success.
 
In the book Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek demonstrates how the best leaders will wait to hear everyone’s opinion on a subject before sharing their own. First because it allows them to better understand the creative perspective of their team members and second because they are self-aware enough to know that once they share their opinion, it will taint whatever is said after that.
 
2. Teams Accomplish Great Things Together
 
Servant leadership is simply about a leader understanding that they are there to serve. This model can be beneficial when the leader understands that it is about working with others to accomplish great things as a team versus simply directing or managing others. Servant leaders understand that completing the task at hand is more important than their individual success.
 
3. Everyone Learns How To Be Supportive
 
Servant leadership is humbly putting others before oneself through service and doing so without regard to one’s title, status, ego or expectations about the work a leader is “supposed” to be doing. A true servant leader goes to their people and asks, “What can I do to support you in this moment?” with the sole agenda of meeting the person’s need in whatever form it presents itself.
 
4. People Are Inspired To Take Personal Responsibility
 
Servant leadership is a humble style where leaders care for employees holistically and serve them by providing them with autonomy. The style is beneficial for every company because it inspires people to become leaders and take personal responsibility for all of their decisions and actions. Businesses that embrace servant leadership tend to have a great company culture with employees who go above and beyond.
 
 
5. Servant Leaders Build Other Leaders
 
The job of a leader, at the most fundamental level, is to build other leaders. To do that, you must operate in service of others to multiply growth and impact. Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy in which the goal of a leader is to serve. Isn’t that the heart of what leadership is all about?
 
In his essay, The Servant as Leader, Robert K. Greenleaf first coined the phrase "servant-leader," writing, "The servant-leader is servant first … That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions."
Even in the caring professions, money, power or day-to-day decision-making can cause leaders to lose sight of their altruistic goals. They may lead the organization without prioritizing service to the community. However, Greenleaf says, "The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them, there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature."
 
The differences are:
• A servant-leader's focus is primarily on other people's (and their communities') well-being and growth.
 
• The servant-leader isn't a sole leader with power, but rather, a power-sharer.
 
• They put other people's needs above their own and enable their team to grow, develop and perform to the best of their ability.
 
How To Develop Servant Leadership
 
In Leadership: Theory and Practice, Peter G. Northouse describes 10 characteristics of servant leadership: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people and building community. How do you practice these? Whether you are at work, or in your family or community, servant leadership has a vital role to play, now more than ever. These are three ways that you can begin to develop your servant leadership skills. 
 
  1. Communicate and engage with others. Engage employees in finding solutions and working on projects that benefit those they serve, both in and outside of the organization. Being able to deliver clear-cut messages in a concise way is an important aspect of effective communication. As a servant leader, you need to communicate in a way that makes it easy for people to understand what you want to achieve. That means your instructions need to be clear, with no room for misinterpretation. In this way, you will be in a great position to get your team to accomplish the goals set with maximum efficiency. This consistent engagement will build resilience by sharing positive stories of what your organization and/or employees have been doing well!
 
2. Create a plan. It is important to prepare for potential challenges. Think of the things that need to happen, including obstacles that might get in the way and plan how you will respond. Include your team, and consider this to be a real, working risk assessment with practicable actions. Address all the possible scenarios: extended periods of lockdown, illness, loss of income streams, continued new ways of working or adapted business practices. How will you react to each scenario? Planning ahead, considering all eventualities and knowing what you'll do in each case will help alleviate anxiety, stress and panic, and enable you to act in a calm, measured way. Furthermore, communicating this information with candor builds trust and demonstrates transparency, which is especially important during times of uncertainty.
 
3. Model servant leadership. In times of perceived danger, the primitive "fight, flight, freeze" responses prevail and extraordinary behavior can manifest, like people hoarding toilet paper or reporting their neighbors to the police for taking a walk. In times of crisis, people often look to leaders for how they should respond. So lead by example. Demonstrate servant leadership by modeling the kind of attitude and behavior you want others to have in the face of crisis; one of calmness, sharing, gratitude and compassion for others. Encourage "we" before "me" and walk your talk.

Building Mentor Connections Through Work Orientation

Kickstarting Mentorships For Fulfilling Careers

Privacy Policy