Leadership

Leader vs. Cheerleader

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Both contain the word “leader” but they are not equal.  Working with organizations all over the world opens the door to leadership models that run the gauntlet from good to bad to ugly.

Cultures can be toxic when products never work, core values are flawed, employees are abused, etc., but the one component you typically spot first is where cheerleaders are masquerading as leaders.

Most execs today have had enough managers in their careers to know there is a significant difference in leadership effectiveness and those differences can have massive impacts on the overall performance of the organization.  Those managers we worked for - and would gladly do that again - typically had the best organizational traction with delivering success as well as motivating exceptional employee performance.   The other group of bosses – the ones we would never work with again – always seemed to survive but could never cast a leadership shadow even on insignificant issues. 

Leaders
The best street level definition for leader we use in our RoundTable programs is simple: someone people will follow.  Any manager or executive candidate has a track record.  Find out if the people who reported to the candidate would ever volunteer to do that again.  The tools to locate those individuals are available today (clearly start with LinkedIn).  Strong leader profiles are always supported by their previous direct reports along with descriptions like honest, fair, responsive, challenging, demanding, direct, clear, etc.  Any absence of feedback about the individual or a “no” to question about another tour as a direct report are major flags that you are looking at a cheerleader.

Cheerleaders
This profile is a chameleon in that they find ways to take credit for everything positive and avoid anything going the wrong way.  They are the perpetual “success survivors” even when the organization is circling the drain.  The employees view them as empty suits meaning they only have their personal agenda about “how do I win” on their mind.  No career is burdened with only success outcomes – real leaders have all taken hits and had to navigate recoveries.  That is what establishes their leadership profile.  This is the first topic to explore and listen to how they address their role.  If your BS meter locks on tilt with their answer, you have the wrong leader candidate.

20 Traits of a Leader

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We worked through this topic at our recent RoundTable meetings and I thought the off-the-cuff list we compiled was fairly thorough.

Here is the list we developed:

1. Hiring skills

2. Vision

3. Integrity

4. Trustworthy

5. Confidence

6. OK with tough questions

7. Has your interests in mind

8. Cares about people

9. Delegation

10. Great Thinker

11. Good Communicator

12. Values Contribution

13. Good Team

14. Influential

15. Lead by Example

16. Strategic

17. Stable

18. Positive

19. Practices the Platinum Rule (treat others how they want to be treated)

20. Values you

DISC Styles Defined - Compliance

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Today we conclude our DISC series with the final style - Compliance. Here is more on the High C.

Compliance
This factor describes people that follow the rules, or comply.  C's are precise and exact in that they enjoy complex tasks and absolute answers.  C's are the least common style in the general population.  Their drive to comply leads them to be perfectionists, at times, and the "traffic cops" for any team.  They prefer to have an orderly life free of mistakes and errors.  The precise nature of the High C's work product often leads them into roles like finance, quality control and law enforcement.

Observable Behavior
Buy:  Very slow buyers; proven products.
Change:  Concerned of the effects of change.
Conflict response:  Avoidance.
Drive:  Careful, follow rules. Best drivers.
Decorate an office:  Graphs, charts, functional.
Gesture:  Very reserved, little or no gestures.
Goal Setting:  Good at setting safe goals, probably in many areas. Goals are safe with little risk.
Organization:  Everything in its place. Perfectly organized.
Read:  Nonfiction, technical journals.
Risk Factor:  Very low.
Rules:  "By the book." Knows and follows rules.
Stand:  Arms folded, one hand on chin.
Stress Relief:  Alone time.
Talk on the Phone:  Little chitchat. To the point. May be short or long depending on data needed.
Talk to others:  Direct. Questioning, clarifying.
Walk:  Straight line.
Writing:  Direct, to the point, with appropriate data.
Color noticed first:  Yellow.
 

Communicating with the High C

  • Prepare your case in advance.  Don't be disorganized or messy.
  • Approach them in a straightforward, direct way.  Don't be casual, informal or personal.
  • Use a thoughtful approach. Build credibility by looking at all sides of each issue.  Don't force a quick decision.
  • Present specifics, and do what you say you can do.  Don't be vague about expectations or fail to follow through.
  • Allow them their space.  Don't touch them.
     

Managing the High C

  • Involve them in defining standards that are undefined.
  • Clearly define requirements of the job and expectations.
  • Set goals that have "reach" in them.
  • Involve them in long-term planning.
  • Train them in people skills and negotiating.
     

Potential Limitations of the High C

  • Hesitant to act without precedent.
  • Overanalyze; Analysis Paralysis.
  • Be too critical of others.
  • Get bogged down in details.
  • Be too hard on themselves.

The High C is an uncommon style that can thrive in a highly technical, detailed sale.  The C enjoys the data-driven processes of most positions - they tend to love Excel.  You can expect the High C to know the rules and eagerly apply them to people who are breaking the rules.  They are task-oriented and can struggle, at times, with personal interactions within a team setting.  Their precision provides them with a breadth of knowledge about the solution they are selling.  Expect them to be accurate to a fault and driven to close the perfect sale.

Source: Target Training International

DISC Styles Defined - Steadiness

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Today we continue with our DISC series and the third style - Steadiness. Here is more on the High S.

Steadiness
This factor describes people that crave consistency, repetition and few surprises.  S's are drawn to routine and predictability which gives them the innate ability to excel at consistency.  High S's are loyal workers who bring a peacemaking ability to any team.  Their desire to find closure drives them to finish what they started.

Observable Behavior
Buy:  Slow decision maker; traditional products.
Change:  Does not like change. Needs much preparation.
Conflict response:  Tolerate, put up with it.
Drive:  Relaxed pace, no hurry.
Decorate an office:  Family snapshots, "homey" atmosphere.
Gesture:  Will gesture with hands, not large sweeping gestures.
Goal Setting:  Goals are short-term, low risk. May use daily to-do lists.
Organization:  Usually some type of system. A little on the sloppy side.
Read:  People stories, fiction and nonfiction.
Risk Factor:  Moderately low risk-taker.
Rules:  Will usually follow time-tested, proven rules.
Stand:  Leaning back, hand in pocket.
Stress Relief:  Rest time/sleep. Hot baths.
Talk on the Phone:  Warm conversationalist, friendly and concerned.
Talk to others:  Warm, not pushy. Will listen before talking.
Walk:  Steady, easy pace.
Writing:  Long form giving lots of information.
Color noticed first:  Blue.
 

Communicating with the High S

  • Start with personal comments. Break the ice.  Don't rush headlong into business or agenda.
  • Show sincere interest in them as people.  Don't stick coldly or harshly to business.
  • Patiently draw out their personal goals and ideas. Listen and be responsive.  Don't force a quick response to your objectives.
  • Move casually, informally.  Don't be abrupt and rapid.
  • Provide personal assurances and guarantees.  Don't promise something you can't deliver.
     

Managing the High S

  • Clearly explain upcoming changes in order to prepare them.
  • Make an effort to get to know them and their needs.
  • Assign them fewer, larger projects.
  • Encourage their contribution in meetings.
  • Work to stretch them carefully to new heights.
     

Potential Limitations of the High S

  • Take criticism of work as personal affront.
  • Resist change just for change sake.
  • Need help getting started on new assignment.
  • Have difficulty establishing priorities.
  • Not project a sense of urgency.

The High S is a strong selling style for extended, relationship sales.  The S has a natural ability to hang in there even during long periods of time.  They are people-oriented like the High I, but they are quieter in dealing with others.  High S's are introverted and enjoy predictable days and established routines.  Leading the High S requires a boss who can see the strengths they bring to the team, and the realization that there are times when you will have to put the spurs to them.

Source: Target Training International

DISC Styles Defined - Influence

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Today we continue with our DISC series and the second style - Influencing. Here is more on the High I.

Influencing
This factor describes people that prefer to influence others with their words.  High I's enjoy the opportunity to talk to new people, experience new things...anything new.  I's tend to trust other people implicitly and have a naturally optimistic approach to most things.

Observable Behavior
Buy:  Quick decision makers; showy  products; impulse buyer.
Change:  May not notice change.
Conflict response:  Flight, run.
Drive:  Visual, looking around, radio on.
Decorate an office:  Contemporary, memorabilia of experiences.
Gesture:  A lot of big gestures and facial expressions when talking.
Goal Setting:  Not good at setting goals. Intention is present, planning is not.
Organization:  Disorganized. A lot of piles.
Read:  Fiction, self-improvement books.
Risk Factor:  Moderate risk-taker.
Rules:  May not be aware of rules and break them unintentionally.
Stand:  Feet spread. Two hands in pockets.
Stress Relief:  Interaction with people.
Talk on the Phone:  Long conversations. A great deal of tone variation in voice.
Talk to others:  Verbal, at length. Personal with others.
Walk:  Weave, people focus, may run into things.
Writing:  More wordy, warm people focus.
Color noticed first:  Red.
 

Communicating with the High I

  • Plan interaction that supports their dreams and intentions.  Don't legislate or muffle.
  • Allow time for relating and socializing.  Don't curt, cold or tight-lipped.
  • Talk about people and their goals.  Don't drive to facts, figures and alternatives.
  • Focus on people and action items. Put details in writing.  Don't leave decisions up in the air.
  • Ask for their opinion.  Don't be impersonal or task-oriented.
     

Managing the High I

  • Assist in setting realistic goals.
  • Work with on-time management.
  • Develop a friendship and make time for interaction daily.
  • Open door policy for High I to discuss any issues.
  • Look for opportunities for them to utilize their verbal skills.
     

Potential Limitations of the High I

  • Oversell.
  • Act impulsively, heart over mind.
  • Trust people indiscriminately.
  • Be inattentive to detail.
  • Tend to listen only situationally.

The High I is a somewhat common style in sales.  This style is the most appreciative of people interactions so sales is a natural draw.  They are chatty, personal, outgoing and always eager for a new experience.  The High I does require a patient leader as the High I will be in your office frequently to discuss their most recent discovery/success/question.  Be patient and know that the High I will cover a lot of ground and talk to more people than any other style.

Source: Target Training International

DISC Styles Defined - Dominance

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There are four primary DISC styles - D, I, S, C.  We're going to start a series on each style to help you better understand people through their preferred communication channel.  We begin with the High D.

Dominance
This factor describes people that tend to favor a direct, assertive communication style and tend to focus on problems and challenges.  High Ds love to stick to business, get to the point and not waste time.  Ds tend not to immerse themselves in minutiae or specific details.

Observable Behavior
Buy:  Quick decision makers; new and unique products.
Change:  Love change.
Conflict response:  Fight back.
Drive:  Fast, always somewhere to get to in a hurry.
Decorate an office:  Status conscious, large desk, efficiency.
Gesture:  A lot of hand movement when talking, big gestures.
Goal Setting:  Sets many goals, usually high risk and not written down.
Organization:  Efficient, not neat.
Read:  Cliffs notes, executive book summaries.
Risk Factor:  High risk-taker.
Rules:  May tend to break the rules. The end justifies the means.
Stand:  Forward leaning. Hand in pocket.
Stress Relief:  Physical activity, preferably of a competitive nature.
Talk on the Phone:  Little chitchat. To the point. Results.
Talk to others:  Direct. While others are talking may do other activities, as well as interrupt or jump to their next response.
Walk:  Fast, always going somewhere.
Writing:  Direct, to the point. Results-oriented.
Color noticed first:  Green.
 

Communicating with the High D

  • Be clear, specific and to the point.
    Don't ramble on, or waste their time.
  • Stick to business.  Don't try to build personal relationships, or chitchat.
  • Present the facts logically; plan your presentation efficiently.  Don't leave loopholes or cloudy issues if you don't want to be zapped.
  • Ask specific (preferably "What?" questions).  Don't ask rhetorical questions, or useless ones.
  • Provide a win/win opportunity.  Don't force the High D into a losing situation.
     

Managing the High D

  • Clearly explain results expected.
  • Negotiate commitments one-on-one.
  • Define rules.
  • Confront face-to-face in all disagreements.
  • Provide challenging assignments.
     

Potential Limitations of the High D

  • Overstep authority.
  • Be too directive.
  • Be impatient with others.
  • Be argumentative.
  • Push people rather than lead them.

Overall, the High D style is the easiest to observe and maybe the most difficult to manage.  They beauty of the High D is that they will often achieve victories that you may have thought too difficult to pursue...or win.  The D will provide drive and competitiveness to any team, just be prepared to lead them in a unique way.

Source: Target Training International

10 Characteristics of a Leader

Photo by David Dibert from Pexels

Photo by David Dibert from Pexels

These are the 10 according to Selling Power:

1.)  Be courageous.

2.)  Think big.

3.)  Master change.

4.)  Be ethical.

5.)  Have a sense of humor.

6.)  Be persistent and realistic.

7.)  Be positive and hopeful.

8.)  Accept power and use it wisely.

9.)  Make decisions.

10.)  Be committed.

A solid list for sure.  I have to call out the description for “Think big.”:

“Great leaders are curious, eager to create new things, and able to bring out the best in others.  They have an ability to see the big picture and work toward making that picture a reality.”

If you want to call out 3 qualities for a strong leader, you would have a good start with curious, creative and inspiring.

The Danger of Complete Agreement

From the Harvard Business Review (emphasis mine):

“Team leaders want to nurture creativity. That’s why team building is often a high priority, because cohesion is supposed to help team members work together to achieve their goals. But you should avoid fostering too much cohesion. When it comes to creativity, the best teams fight a little (or even a lot). Structured, task-oriented conflict means that new ideas are being submitted to the group and tested. If your team always agrees, that might mean people are self-censoring their ideas or not generating any new ideas at all. Research suggests that when teams forgo traditional brainstorming rules and engage in debate, they end up with more and better ideas. As a leader, it may seem like your job is to break up fights, but don’t be afraid to act as a referee instead. Allow disagreements over ideas to unfold, while making sure it stays fair and doesn’t get personal.“

How true.  If your sales team is always in agreement, it is probable that you have either assembled a group cloned after yourself or you are overly domineering and no one wants to challenge any idea.  Either one is detrimental and definitely needs to be addressed (i.e. corrected).

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If you have a group that you cloned after your own style and strengths, you are dealing with a group weakness effect whether you are aware of it or not.  Although you have strength in certain areas, other areas can be complete blind spots.  The problem with blind spots is that markets move, and if they move into one of your group blind spots, you will lose market share quickly.  The strongest teams we assess have a variety of styles and strengths which provide a well-rounded group skill set.  These teams are more difficult to lead and they often debate, but therein lies their strength.

If you are domineering, that is a different issue requiring a behavior change (no small feat).  The first step is to know you are overpowering some, or all, of your team.  As the article states, you should view yourself more as the referee and less of the active player.  A thoughtful pause, a question for others’ input, deflecting to the group…these are all approaches that will help empower your people to be more creative.