Do You Share Your Magic Dust?

The meaning of life is to find your gift.  The purpose of life is to give it away.
—Pablo Picasso

Those of you that are Leadership Journey alumni are very familiar with our term “magic dust”. For those that are not, think in terms of what you’re good at, what comes easy to you, what you enjoy doing, and what some would say is your gift.

Think in terms of how you would define a good work day. Consider:

  • What gives you a sense of accomplishment?
  • What unique skills and abilities do you possess that impact your level of effectiveness and sense of adding value?
  • What qualities do you bring to your team or organization that others may not have?
  • Are you able to integrate your gifts/strengths both in your career and in your personal life?

Our “magic dust” differentiates us from others and often guides us to the type of work or career we find fulfilling. It’s fairly easy and natural to identify what we don’t like doing, and we generally know what we are not good at, but we’re not always aware of why we feel we had a great day at work and in general just feel good.

This may sound funny, but we have worked with leaders that excel at what they do, are acknowledged and rewarded for their accomplishments, but they quite simply don’t LIKE what they’re doing!

Hopefully that does not apply to you! What made you choose the position you currently have? Do you find it motivating and energizing?

Having a career that utilizes our special gifts/magic dust is what we aspire for. Do you make others aware of those gifts? Better yet, do you use your gifts to help achieve results and to develop others?  These skills and abilities are what we call “magic dust”.

Hopefully your leader is aware of your strengths, but they may not be aware of what you’re passionate about and the skills/tasks you enjoy doing most.  Share it!

The ability to do the kind of work you enjoy most will energize you, increase your level of fulfillment, and add to your sense of purpose.

What’s your “magic dust” and how have you shared it? We look forward to hearing your stories

I think the foremost quality–there’s no success without it–is really loving what you do. If you love it, you do it well, and there’s no success if you don’t do well what you’re working at.
— Malcolm Forbes

Four Communication Styles

Communication is the real work of leadership.
–Nitin Nohria

How often have you experienced communication issues? There are likely times when you are extremely effectively, yet other times when it’s a struggle. Why is that? In 2010, researcher/facilitator Kirk Bridgman identified 4 communication styles:  demonstrators, assertors, contemplators &  narrators

His descriptions are:

DemonstratorsPeople orientation, emotional approach. Focus on WHO.
Demonstrators are people-oriented, fast-paced and enthusiastic with open and casual body language. They tend to be animated and outgoing, and prefer an informal atmosphere. Demonstrators can be outrageous, spontaneous, excitable and sociable. They are ideas people who like to be in the limelight. If over-balanced in this style some weaknesses may show up such as being unreliable, self-centered, overly optimistic and indiscriminate.

AssertorsTask orientation, emotional approach. Focus on WHAT.
Assertors are fast-paced and direct, like Demonstrators, and are more task-oriented, than people-oriented. They tend to be hard working, ambitious, leader types. They are good at making decisions quickly and efficiently. They are goal-oriented, assertive and confident. Assertors are the take-charge people who let nothing stop them. If over-balanced in this style some weaknesses may show up such as being too impatient, competitive and judgmental.

ContemplatorsTask orientation, logical approach. Focus on the HOW.
Contemplators tend to be analytical, detail-oriented, thinker types. They are persistent, good problem solvers, and pride themselves on their orderliness and accuracy. Often seen alone, they tend to have quiet, low-key personalities. If over-balanced in this style some weaknesses may show up such as being too withdrawn, rigid, closed-minded, and overly pessimistic.

NarratorsPeople Orientation, logical approach. Focus on the WHY.
Narrators are slow-paced and indirect like Contemplators, but they are more people-oriented like Demonstrators. They are warm, friendly, gentle and cooperative. They highly value relationships over goals. They are good at listening and tend to be open-minded. Most people find them to be loving, and emotionally intuitive. If over-balanced in this style weaknesses can show up as overly meek and easily sidetracked.

Understanding the differing styles and needs will improve communication in the workplace. Let us know how it works for you!

To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.
– Anthony Robbins

12 Steps For Courageous Leadership Recap

CourageAbility – The ability to live your dreams and professional life the way you desire, while achieving your goals and exceeding in your ambitions and objectives. It is taking and empowering yourself and others to go where you or they have never gone before!

In 2011 we wrote our first book: 12 Steps For Courageous Leadership – Start Your Journey Now and thought that this is a good time to revisit the steps.

It’s not easy being a leader. It takes courage and commitment, the willingness to step out of our comfort zone, the need to readily adapt to change, and the obligation to develop our skill set and the skills within our organization. Below are 12 essential steps:

Step 1)   Have and live YOUR dream. As leaders we need to have the courage to acknowledge and leverage OUR passion.  If you are living someone else’s dream, have the courage to say it; it’s not a problem to accommodate others, but realize and acknowledge that it’s your choice.

Step 2)   Document your goals. Put your goals in writing, communicate them, and enlist others to help track your progress.

Step 3)   Commit to your goals.  This can be difficult and requires taking action. Schedule the time in your calendar for what you’re committing to do. Saying you’re going to do something is not commitment; DOING it is.

Step 4)   Understand your strengths and the strengths of others. You can’t do everything yourself; allow others to help you.  Bring the experts into your life. Take a risk. Understand the strengths of others, help them grow, and allow them to take ownership.

Step 5) Communicate with Confidence and Clarity. This is our most important task and we’re continually working on it.

Step 6)   Understand and manage conflict with a purpose.  Without conflict there is no leadership. Conflict must occur for there to be growth, and it must be done in a healthy, honoring, respectful manner.

Step 7)   Grow and Develop others. As leaders our job is to help others achieve their goals and objectives. Are you mentoring others to help them grow?  Do you and your team have Individual Development Plans?  Do you track their progress?

Step 8)   Effective Delegation. This, combined with number 4, is critical. If you are doing everything yourself, you’ll get burned out. You may be surprised and find others can do it even better!

Step 9)   Regularly solicit feedback and commit to developing a skill.

Step 10)  Remain Controlled; composure is critical for a leader. Emotional intelligence is a skill that can be measured and developed.

Step 11)  Reward and Recognize. Do you reward others based on goals, or just randomly? Rewards need to be consistent and based on the actions/behaviors/results you would like to see more of.

Step 12) Succeed and Learn from Failure. Risks need to be taken or very little change will occur.

Be courageous and take action on the 12 steps!

Stay safe!

We challenge you to live your life with courage, leverage it to achieve success, and make a difference!

EQ and Success

If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.
—Daniel Goleman

We’ve written about Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in the past and have shared that EQ can increase through self development and consists of 4 areas: Self awareness, self management, social awareness, and relationship management.

Success Magazine’s Rhett Power shares more. He provides the following about those with high EQ:

  1. They’re change agents.
    They understand that it’s a necessary part of life—and they adapt.
  2. They’re self-aware.
    They know what they’re good at and what they still have to learn; weaknesses don’t hold them back.
  3. They’re empathetic.
    Being able to relate to others makes them essential in the workplace. With an innate ability to understand what co-workers or clients are going through, they can get through difficult times
    drama free.
  4. They’re not perfectionists.
    They know perfection is impossible; they roll with the punches and learn from mistakes.
  5. They’re balanced.
    They know the importance of maintaining a healthy professional-personal balance in their lives.
  6. They’re curious.
    They don’t judge; they explore the possibilities; they ask questions and are open to new solutions.
  7. They’re gracious.
    They believe every day brings something to be thankful for; they feel good about their lives and don’t let critics or toxic people affect that.

Any idea which element of EQ you’d score highest in? Which area do you feel has the greatest growth potential?

Emotional intelligence is a way of recognizing, understanding, and choosing how we think, feel, and act. It shapes our interactions with others and our understanding of ourselves. It defines how and what we learn; it allows us to set priorities; it determines the majority of our daily actions. Research suggests it is responsible for as much as 80 percent of the “success” in our lives. -J. Freedman

The Cost Of Conflict

The better team members engage, speak, listen, hear, interpret and respond constructively, the more likely their teams are to leverage conflict rather than be leveled by it.
–Craig Runde and Tim Flanagan

We’re at it again, that is, sharing information about conflict, and the newly published costs for conflict in the workplace.

Based on results published by the Washington Business Journal, the typical manager spends 25 – 40% of his or her time dealing with workplace conflict. That equates to 1-2 days every workweek!

And, the Cost of Workplace Conflict in the U.S. is estimated at $359 Billion annually (2.8 hours per week @ $17.95 per hour).

Do you find this as staggering as we do? We’ve all experienced conflict in the workplace, and some of us are better at managing it than others, but it looks like it’s time we all make addressing conflict a priority.

According to authors Karl A. Slaikeu, Ralph H. Hasson, managing conflict is the largest reducible cost in many businesses, and the most common disruptive behaviors associated with workplace conflict include:

  • Being dismissive
  • Finger-pointing
  • Arguing
  • Not listening
  • Being sarcastic
  • Belittling
  • Gossiping
  • Caving in
  • Being disrespectful
  • Complaining about someone

It’s up to us as leaders to understand how we respond to conflict. We need to increase our awareness of not only our own conflict behaviors, but also those of our colleagues. And lastly, we need to recognize destructive responses and replace them with productive ones.

How well do you manage workplace conflict?  We can help!

If we manage conflict constructively, we harness its energy for creativity and development.
Kenneth Kaye

Feedback Increases Effectiveness

We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.–Bill Gates

Can you believe it’s the 4th QTR of 2018? How are you doing?  How are you feeling? Have you accomplished all that you planned for, or will the next few months be action packed?

Hopefully your annual plan included soliciting feedback. Bill Gates’ quote above shares that we need feedback to improve.

As leaders, we may be more comfortable giving feedback than receiving it.  We view giving feedback as part of our job and have scheduled meetings (one on ones, performance appraisals) that lend themselves to discussing the positive behaviors and accomplishments, as well as the missed goals and opportunities.

We all have perceptions as to how our peers, subordinates, and business partners would evaluate us, but we rarely solicit feedback on a regular basis.   So what can we do?

You can start simple.  Ask 3 questions:

  • What do I do that makes a difference that you want me to continue doing?
  • What am I doing that you want me to stop?
  • What could I do better?

You may also want to consider using a formal 360’ feedback program – we use Wiley’s 363 For Leaders tool that evaluates 8 approaches for effective leadership (pioneering, energizing, affirming, inclusive, humble, deliberate, resolute and commanding). (Contact us if you want to learn more).

As leaders it’s pretty much a given that we provide regular and honoring feedback to our staff or team members, but there’s added value to the organization when we extend this to include peers and our boss.

How do you feel about both giving and receiving feedback? Do you find the process constructive and a learning experience?

Make sure any feedback you provide is timely, well intended, and delivered in an honoring way.  Also, when you receive feedback, you don’t necessarily have to take action – listen to what you’re being told, process it, and evaluate if acting on it would serve you well.

Remember, the whole idea of feedback is to grow and improve!

Author Alexander Lucia says:
Truly great leaders spend as much time collecting and acting upon feedback as they do providing it.

Transformational Leaders

All good businesses are personal. The best businesses are very personal.
–Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks

Lately we’ve had a theme around relationships. That’s because without relationship building, we as leaders would not obtain desired results, we wouldn’t have effective and productive teams, and the morale, commitment, and dedication of the team members would be diminished.

Dr. Greg Halpern says: Transformational leadership is about implementing new ideas, continual change to maintain relevance, staying flexible and adaptable, and continually improving relationships with those around them.

He also feels that transformational leaders build relationships by applying or possessing the following behaviors and traits:

  • Charisma
  • Inspirational motivation
  • Intellectual stimulation
  • Individual consideration
  • High morals
  • Trustworthiness
  • Creates an actionable vision
  • Treats everyone as individuals
  • Coaches, mentors, and provides growth opportunities
  • Creates a culture of self-fulfillment and self-worth
  • Provides constant and candid communication

Dr. Terry Jackson adds to this list in his 7 Principles For Developing Quality Relationships where he defines what in his opinion constitutes quality relationships:

  1. Acceptance
  2. Respect
  3. Understanding
  4. Transparency
  5. Non-judgment
  6. Empowerment
  7. Trust

This is quite a list and one that even a seasoned leader will need to review in depth to assess up-skill needs.

We suggest you rate each one on a scale of 1 – 5 to help narrow down areas for development.  You can even ask your peers and direct reports to rate you and compare how aligned you are.

The results may prove interesting!

Manipulative Leaders-Create Distrust and selfishness
Transactional Leaders-Create Mediocrity and complacency
Motivational Leaders-Create Positivity and Action
Influential Leaders-Create Growth and Empowerment
Servant-Leaders-Create Authenticity and Explosive Growth
Transformational Leaders-Create Change and Leave Legacies
― Farshad Asl


Bad Boss?

Most people have trouble with about 50% of their bosses.
–Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger, FYI – For Your Improvement

Last week we talked about “managing up”; today we’re going to take it a step deeper.

What if you don’t have a strong relationship with your boss? You’re not alone. Per Lombardo and Eichinger, about half of us have boss difficulties.

Some of us may have:

  • communication issues
  • lack of comfort; tense up whenever the “boss” is around
  • respect issues; lack of appreciation for the skills the boss possesses
  • a lack of skills to sufficiently manage the relationship
  • defensiveness and lack of cooperation issues
  • the inability to receive feedback and suggestions for improvement

Guess what – the buck stops with us as we will likely be the one to suffer. We’ll get poor performance reviews, not get raises (or negligible ones), be passed over for the “good assignments”, and probably not be considered for promotions or career advancement opportunities.

We’re not suggesting to become brown nosers; rather identify the top 3 issues you feel impact the relationship and focus on improving them.  What can YOU do to better the situation?

Start with keeping your negative thoughts to yourself.  Don’t get caught up in the coffee room chats that all too often engage in bashing and sharing war stories.

Schedule regular meetings with your boss; don’t avoid the relationship, rather try to build a more favorable one.

If the leader truly has integrity issues and violates the policies, principles, and values of your company, investigate whether your company has an ombudsperson (The typical duties of an ombudsman are to objectively investigate complaints and do their best to obtain resolution). If one does not exist, another approach is to meet with HR or your boss’s boss.

Be realistic about your expectations. Is it only you that has an issue with the boss? Are you being antagonistic and not being a team player? Are you helping support goal achievement and in general being an asset to your organization?

Keep in mind that things may not go in your favor, and changing jobs may be an option (or a requirement!).

Having a bad boss isn’t your fault. Staying with one is.
— Nora Denzel

Managing “UP”

Managing “UP” requires that you manage to the expectations of your boss:
Know their priorities. Speak their language. Anticipate their needs. Be truthful and don’t BS them.
Contract properly at the end of a meeting.–Achim Nowak

How do you feel about the leadership skills you possess?  Would you rate yourself “average”, “above average”,  or maybe even “below average”?

When you rated yourself, which skills did you consider?  Did you limit it to those that impact the  interactions and relationships with your direct reports and perhaps your peers?  What we often forget to include is the critical relationship required with our boss.

In a prior tip, we shared the need to:

  1. Learn your boss’ communication style. – What level of detail do they prefer?
  2. Be proactive – share strengths and ideas and create an executable plan.
  3. Meet regularly – discuss progress against goals and areas for improvement.
  4. Ask for your boss’ opinion – Ask for their perspective on things.
  5. Go to your boss with solutions – ask for help when needed, but do your “homework”.
  6. Develop a power that makes you attractive – stay apprised of changes in your industry, understand your competitors, have a strong customer/business partner relationship. Be indispensable.
  7. Address problems – talk about your differences; remain fact based; keep your emotions in check.
  8. Play devil’s advocate – share your different perspective; say “Let me play devil’s advocate” and add new perspectives.

Nowak also suggests “appreciating UP“. Let your boss know that you appreciate him/her. Be authentic; provide genuine feedback. “Bosses rarely receive a word of praise or appreciation. From anyone. Yes, it’s lonely at the top, in more ways than one“.

In order to “Manage UP“, it’s up to us to build a strong relationship with our boss. We need to ensure our expectations are aligned, that we have a clear understanding of our organization’s vision, mission, and goals, that all of our behaviors support them, that we are committed to making a difference, and that we communicate the role we play!

Are there are any leadership relationship skills you’d like to enhance?

Managing up is about earning the trust and respect of your boss by working together with that person to create the best possible working relationship.
—Lisa Quast

Engagement and Workplace Relationships

Sustaining high degrees of employee engagement and developing future organizational leaders is at the forefront of human capital challenges.—SHRM 2017

Would you be surprised to learn that relationships with coworkers was the #1 factor for determining employee engagement levels?

What about that the single highest scoring component for a “want” in the workplace was for the “Respectful treatment of all employees at all levels”? (65%)

The other high scoring components were Compensation and Trust (both scored 61%), Job Security (58%), followed with the Opportunity to Use Skills and Abilities (56%).

SHRM’s survey also discovered that only 38% of U.S. employees were very satisfied with their jobs.  This is daunting as side effects are many.  When satisfaction levels are low, expect high attrition, reduced productivity, lower work quality, sagging morale, and minimal collaboration, inspiration, and accountability.

Other interesting findings included:

  • Only 38% of employees “very satisfied” with the level of respect at work
  • 26% were “very satisfied” with their compensation
  • 33% were “very satisfied” with the trust between employees and senior management
  • 36% were “very satisfied” with their Job Security
  • 44% were “very satisfied” their Opportunity to Use Skills and Abilities

Another study showed that employee turnover is higher than it’s been in ten years, and the cost is equated at $160 billion a year (for U.S. companies alone).  This study also reported that  high performers deliver up to 400% more work than a worker that it is considered “average”.

As leaders, we have the ability to influence, and even increase most of these numbers. It’s up to us to set the standards, to utilize leadership behaviors that we hope others will emulate, and take action against the behaviors that are inappropriate or impact satisfaction levels.

We need to encourage interactions, collaboration, and inclusiveness; we need to set the stage for sharing and building on the inspiration and ideas of others, and to work together to make them even better.  We also need to acknowledge contributions and create a culture that everyone feels they are a part of.  We need to value differences (skill-sets, styles and behaviors), and we need to leverage the talents and “magic dust” (strengths) of others.

Bottom line – don’t waste talent, and take the time to build and sustain strong relationships so engagement levels soar!

Employees want to feel good about their organization and what it offers the world. They want to be able to say, ‘I like what this company stands for.’ If employees do not believe in their company or do not believe the company can successfully uphold its brand or reputation, they are likely to look for a different job – Gallup News

Why, How, What

Any organization can explain what it does; some can explain how they do it;
but very few can clearly articulate why.—Simon Sinek

Speaker and author Simon Sinek frequently provides thoughts about leadership success, and also shares his ideas about collaboration, change, trust, and results. He also created a leadership model called “The Golden Circle”.

At the core of The Circle is WHY.  Think of the WHY as your vision, your purpose, your passion, your beliefs, as well as the direction you want to take your organization.

Sinek believes that the commonality between ALL great and inspiring leaders starts with WHY. He also believes “very few organizations know why they do what they do” or why their organization exists, other than to make money.

Next, the model reflects that the CORE is surrounded by HOW.  The HOW’s are the actions and processes that shape our culture and our values and bring the vision to life. A critical component of HOW is communication.  You want to attract, engage, and retain those that fully believe your WHY.  He feels these are the people that will work for more than a paycheck; they will give it their all.

Next is the outer circle, the WHAT.  This is your business, your product, your service, etc.  Sinek shares that too often when promoting our business, we start with the WHAT.

We’re too anxious to learn pain points, to jump to solutions, to share how we can help. This is contrary to the beliefs of the The Golden Circle.

People care about relationships, and they care about your purpose, your passion, and your work culture.  Do you agree that leadership and success start with “WHY”?

Directions are instructions given to explain how.
Direction is a vision offered to explain why.
—Simon Sinek

Mentally Tough

Mental toughness is a choice and a discipline, not an innate quality bestowed upon the lucky.
–Travis Bradberry

Would you consider yourself mentally tough?  How well do you manage and learn from the errors/failures that occur? What about when dealing with difficult people? From a job that takes all of your energy, and then some?

Let’s face it, we all have those kind of days when everything just seems “off”; it’s how we manage it that counts.

Dr. Travis Bradberry suggests that regardless of the challenges we encounter, we need to remain mentally tough, see new opportunities, and take action.

He also shared that individuals that are truly mentally tough possess the following qualities:

  1. They’re emotionally intelligent
  2. They’re confident
  3. They neutralize toxic people
  4. They embrace change
  5. They say no
  6. They know fear is the No. 1 source of regret
  7. They embrace failure
  8. They don’t dwell on mistakes
  9. They won’t let anyone limit their joy
  10. They don’t limit the joy of others
  11. They exercise
  12. They get enough sleep
  13. They limit their caffeine intake
  14. They don’t wait for an apology to forgive
  15. They’re relentlessly positive

We need to realize we can’t control everything (that’s hard for some of us!), but we can focus our energy on those things that we can influence, and take action on.

Of the 15 items listed, which challenge your ability to be mentally tough?

You have good days, you have bad days. But the main thing is to grow mentally.
– Floyd Mayweather, Jr