Are You Influential?

The goal of leadership without authority is to get others to willingly cooperate and engage. –Carol Kinsey Goman

Last week we talked about the ability to influence others when there is no reporting structure.  Did you seriously ponder how influential you are, and did the LEAP model (Listen, Empathize, Agree and Plan) resonate at all?

Leadership styles and behaviors have changed in the past couple of decades (thankfully!). Gone are the days of dictatorial styles, and building and maintaining relationships, along with focusing on interpersonal skills seem to be more effective for driving and obtaining desired results.

Development Dimensions International, Inc has been conducting leadership studies for over 40 years and found that “only a slight majority (55 percent) of leaders feel that they and their peers are engaged in mutual influence”.

They also reported that communication skills, especially those related to listening, have ranked as the #1 skill for impacting high performance. And more specifically, listening and responding with empathy, obtain the best results.

There are 5 Listening Styles per Wiley’s Personal Listening profile:

Appreciative: Listens in a relaxed manner, seeking enjoyment, entertainment, or inspiration.
Empathic: Listens without judging, is supportive of the speaker, and learns from the experiences of others.
Comprehensive: Listens to organize and make sense of information by understanding relationships among ideas.
Discerning: Listens to get complete information, understand the main message, and determine important details.
Evaluative: Listens in order to make a decision based on information provided and may accept or reject message based on personal beliefs.

Based on the descriptions above, which sounds most like your listening style? When you read about the Empathic style, how aligned are you with that description?

Empathic listeners:

  • Provide support and reflection
  • Are patient listeners
  • Listen for emotions and feelings
  • Let others know that they care

What can you work on to increase your usage of the Empathic Listening style so your level of influence grows? Never doubt that listening takes work!

Want to become a better leader? Stop talking and start listening.
—Mike Myatt

Can You Influence Without Authority?


Influencing those outside of our reporting structure comes easier to some than others.

  • A good starting point is to validate that all involved have a shared goal
  • Next, evaluate required resources ex. Skill sets, time commitments, desired results and timelines
  • Consider everyone as equals
  • Listen to what others are thinking and feeling, as well as their ideas for completing the initiative, and any perceived obstacles
  • Expect conflict (remember, conflict is simply differing opinions)
  • Use the LEAP model – Listen, Empathize, Agree and Plan.
    • Agree on tasks and task ownership, and timelines
    • Jointly complete a plan to track achievements and “misses”
  • If the project has a champion, or if you have a mentor, request they review the plan for enhancements

Collaboration and cooperation are musts. We need to understand and leverage past relationships and experiences, as well as attitudes and beliefs.

All silos need to be torn down, and we need to take the time to understand what everyone brings to the table. What are the individual strengths? Where do people feel they add the most value? What do they enjoy doing?

Communication is also a priority. There are two different styles that are used in influencing others:

  • Openness in communication
  • Consideration for others

Our level of openness dictates how willing we are to share our experiences, our thoughts, and our emotions. (In contrast with volunteering minimal information).

Consideration is displayed by our willingness to accept and respond to others in the way they prefer, which may differ from our own preferences.

Obtaining results is good, but building lasting relationships is better. Take time for team and one on lunches, and maybe an after work social event, and make the time to create a work culture that helps everyone thrive.

Do you effectively “influence without authority”?

Activity Does NOT = Achievement

Never Mistake Activity for Achievement—John Wooden

There are mixed opinions about whether effort should be rewarded, or if it should be limited to results only.

We too have varying thoughts. There are goals and initiatives that need to be attained by individuals, teams, and entire organizations. (That’s how we survive and thrive). As a leader, how do you feel when you see colleagues/direct reports committed to doing everything they can to achieve results, but are unsuccessful? Do you acknowledge their contributions even when success is not achieved?

Below are excerpts from Craig Impelman’s perspectives published in SUCCESS magazine, based on John Wooden’s achievement model:

1. Proper Execution of the Plan
A daily practice plan should be prepared and followed. If you fail to follow the program on one thing, it may affect others. If you planned poorly, make the corrections for the following day . . .

2. Attention to Detail
The coach should be on the floor early to make certain that everything is ready for practice. I like to have a checklist for the managers to go by, but the coach must make sure. Anticipate from past experience and be prepared.

3. Maximize use of time.
Even though a particular drill may be emphasizing one specific fundamental, other fundamentals in use should not be overlooked.

4. Post-Practice Analysis
I like to sit down with my assistants immediately after practice and briefly analyze and discuss the practice of that day.

This was written for basketball, but it also applies to business:

  • Create a plan (or goals) and identify all steps required (and possible roadblocks
  • As leaders, we don’t need to execute the plan, but we need to clearly communicate the desired results and timeframes
  • Remain focused and understand and incorporate dependencies and under-lying needs/skills
  • Conduct a debrief after every initiative/deliverable. What worked well, what didn’t, and what could you do differently next time?

Not everything is a success, nor does everything go as planned despite all of our efforts and critical contributions. So, back to the original question “Do you acknowledge contributions even when success is not achieved?”

Let us know!

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence. –Colin Powell

Savvy Relationship Skills

You can’t talk your way out of a problem you behaved your way into!
—Stephen Covey

It’s relatively easy to be savvy with those you have a relationship with, but how do you go about building a meaningful relationship?

FYI – For Your Improvement  authors, Michael Lombardo &  Robert Eichinger, share the following tips:

  • Look for and appreciate the differences in others and use those differences for everyone’s benefit.
  • Craft how you approach another person by observing them first.
  • Work on being open, approachable, and put others at ease by listening and sharing and valuing their opinion.
  • Ask clarifying questions, restate what they said, and don’t immediately judge an opinion.
  • Manage your non verbal communication.  Make eye contact, stay focused on that person and nod as others speak to stay engaged.
  • Separate the person from a difficult issue.  Ask what is bothersome to that person or ask what they feel you could do or say to help.

A great goal to strive for is that onlookers shouldn’t be able to tell if you’re interacting with a friend, someone you just met, or a person you have an adversarial relationship with.   That’s not easy but it can be done!

And, when you do experience adversarial relationships, look for common interests and don’t disregard differing thoughts and opinions. Keeping your cool, listening, and allowing others to vent will assist with decreasing stress levels and diffuse tense situations.

Do you invest time and skill in building and maintaining savvy relationships?

The key to getting along with all kinds of people is to hold back or neutralize your personal reactions and focus on others first. – Michael Lombardo &  Robert Eichinger

Visualize and Execute

You could be a great visionary, but if you don’t pair vision with action, it’s just your head in the clouds.—Kim Perell

Would you consider yourself a visionary? Many consider having a vision the key for achieving success, but more is required.

You need a plan, you need goals, and then you need to execute.

How often do you envision the end result? Is it clear in your mind? We frequently share the benefits of writing down what it is you wish to achieve, and will highlight that need yet again. Having them in writing helps narrow your focus, increases awareness, and helps identify action steps to keep you on track (and move the plan along).

Kim Perell, Entrepreneur and author provides the following Best Practices:


Follow Your Heart

Just Start

Practice Resilience

Build Strong Relationships

Other tips include:

  • Write down not only your goals, but also specific daily tasks that support them
  • Be clear about what it is you want to achieve and visualize executing your action steps
  • Stay focused; anticipate issues and possible distractions
  • Communicate the value of the work effort  ex. Who will benefit and why

As leaders, it’s up to us to make our vision become reality.

We need to continuously communicate our vision, engage and inspire others to help us, and ensure we execute our plan.

Following these steps will greatly improve the likelihood of achieving success.

Vision is key to action: You have to see, literally and metaphorically, what you’re trying to achieve. –Kim Perell

Advancing Coaching

My best investment, as cliched as this sounds, is the money I’ve spent developing myself, via books, workshops and coaching. Leadership begins within, and to have a better career, start by building a better you.– Robin S. Sharma

When you hear the word “coaching”, what comes to mind? Perhaps sports coaching is the most familiar. What about life coaching, business coaching, executive coaching, e-coaching, and group coaching?

All have a purpose and all make a difference.

As leaders, we must commit to continual learning for ourselves (workshops, seminars, reading, mentors, etc), and if we’re lucky, we’ll have the opportunity to have our own coach.

We must also commit to providing meaningful feedback and coaching support for our staff. The simplest way is via consistent and timely feedback, but more may be needed.

Consider team/group coaching (where the focus is on inclusiveness, trust, collaboration, and leveraging strengths), and it may also include individually developing the skills of high performers and/or helping those that are less proficient realize their potential.

Sometimes our skills are sufficient, and sometimes we must recognize that the help of others is needed to support the attainment of business goals and career aspirations.

For those of you that participated in the Leadership Journey program (within the past 12 months), you have many tips and exercises available to you via QwikCoach.

Another option to get started is to use the GROW Model originally developed in the 1980s by business coaches Graham Alexander, Alan Fine, and Sir John Whitmore.  GROW standards for:

  • Goal
  • Reality (where you want to be)
  • Options or Obstacles (that must be overcome)
  • Will (What’s the skill-set and desire for growth)

This model is useful in coaching sessions since it provides both the coach and coachee the opportunity to share what they want to take action against, and make plans to overcome possible challenges. It is then used in follow-up coaching sessions to identify ongoing action steps, and to review progress.

What are you doing to advance coaching in your workplace? How are you helping others GROW?

Leaders empower individuals by building trust and coaching competence in their job roles and networking skills. –Kenneth H. Blanchard

Independence, Leadership, Courage

Men make history, and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.  –Harry Truman

The U.S.A. celebrates Independence Day on July 4th.  It began in 1776 when 56 courageous individuals decided it was time for a change.

Did you know that 175+ other countries also celebrate Independence Day? As far back as 1143, Portugal officially became an autonomous state, and as recently as 2006, 55.5% of the Montenegro population voted in favor of Independence.

In most cases these are national holidays and a time for celebration and reflection. It’s also a good time to remember all the courageous leaders that value the need for change and growth, and persist despite resistance.

We all know that being a leader is not easy, that it requires courage and commitment, and the ability to motivate and inspire others. It can also require being a risk taker, and not being afraid of failure.

Here are some notable failures that persisted:

Abraham Lincoln – Experienced 12 major failures before being elected the 16th U.S. President

Albert Einstein – His teachers said “he wouldn’t amount to much”.

Ludwig van Beethoven – His music teacher once said “as a composer, he is hopeless”.

Steve Jobs – He felt he was a public failure when he was fired from Apple.

Walt Disney – Was fired from a newspaper for his lack of imagination.

The Beatles – In 1962 they were told they “had no future in show business” and that “groups with guitars are on the way out”.

Bottom line, are you leading with courage and commitment?

And, what are you doing to inspire change in others?

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.–Winston Churchill

Employee Loyalty?

Employees who have been pushed to the point where they no longer care, will not go the extra mile.—Brigette Hyacinth

Did you know that Gallup research found that 70% of an employee’s motivation is influenced by their boss?

We’ve shared stories before about why boss/employee relationships are critical, but the 70% statistic for motivating staff was higher than we expected. We’ve also shared tips for improving relationships and for creating loyalty in the workplace, but author Brigette Hyacinth provides even more:
1.  Connect with staff – Make your presence felt. Get to know your employees.

2. Show employees that you genuinely care. Show empathy when they have problems. Advocate for your team. Stand up for them when things go wrong.

3. Practice Open and Honest two-way Communication. Keep employees informed. Listen. Have an atmosphere where employees’ ideas and suggestions are valued and acted on.

4. Be fair and neutral. Treat everyone fairly. Lead by example. Be known as a person of integrity.

5. Empower Employees. Provide them with the proper tools, give them room to get the job done. Don’t micromanage!

6. Reward and Recognition – Offer incentives. Show employees how much you value and appreciate them. Reward staff for good work, be generous with “Thank Yous.”

7. Recommend employees for training and new opportunities. Acknowledge and encourage strengths, recognize different skills, and provide training and development opportunities.

How often have you heard “employees are your most valuable asset”? It’s said often because it’s true, however if the employee feels that this is a hollow statement, loyalty and commitment will be lacking.

Hyacinth concludes by saying “you can’t buy loyalty, but you can certainly foster and nurture it”.

No argument from us!

Employee loyalty begins with employer loyalty. Your employees should know that if they do the job they were hired to do with a reasonable amount of competence and efficiency, you will support them.–Harvey Mackay

BAM! You’re A Leader

Courage is the main quality of leadership, in my opinion, no matter where it is exercised.—Walt Disney

Many of us were promoted into leadership positions because we were great at what we did. We excelled in our role, we executed tasks with precision, and we met or exceeded goals and deliverables.

All of a sudden “BAM”; you’ve become a leader with direct reports and are not sure what all is involved. It doesn’t matter that you’re unclear on what’s required in your new role, or that your “people” skills needed to be developed, refined and/or refreshed.  Sound familiar?

Some of us have had the opportunity to have a mentor and be afforded career development opportunities.  Some of us have not had a smooth transition into our new leadership role, and quite honestly have difficulty moving forward.

The good news is that we can help ourselves by learning new tools, and acquiring techniques and methods that are considered to be essential for leadership effectiveness. This can be humbling, and it takes courage for successful professionals and technicians to admit they have gaps to fill.

A good starting point is to increase awareness levels; what’s working well, what is not, what skill-sets need to be updated, and are customer/client needs being met?

We have a complimentary self-assessment that we think you’ll find helpful. You (confidentially) rate yourself in the areas of Awareness, Magic Dust, VMGM = B, Communication, Clarity, Accountability, Conflict, Influence, Relationships, Feedback, Inspiration, and Continual Learning. To request the assessment click here.

After scoring yourself on a ten-point scale (from poor to superb), you will document your strengths and target development areas, and provide names for those you feel can provide you with developmental assistance. It will conclude with you determining “next steps” and timings.

Leadership development requires courage and commitment – and, it’s a process not an event. (We know; you’ve heard this before. Numerous times!)

Why not utilize this leadership roadmap to update your development plan? Take your first step towards courageous leadership today!

—John Buchan

Workplace Learning – Poor or Strong?

What happens culturally throughout an organization is linked to what happens with learning and career development and vice-versa.
— Sian Musial, an L&D specialist

How engaged are you with career development, both for yourself and for your staff/colleagues?

Studies have shown that workplace learning is a proven way to ensure that employees keep their skills current while contributing to the growth of the company (it also reduces attrition and improves satisfaction levels).

Based on current studies, the top 4 training and development priorities are:

  • 25% – Leadership and Management Development
  • 12% – Communication Skills
  • 9% – Customer Service
  • 7% – Information Technology

Given that we all have different skill-sets, styles, and preferences, it’s no surprise that the top 3 development priorities are related to “people”.

Times have changed; leadership has assumed many roles formerly done by HR and Talent Management groups. It’s often up to the leader to maximize and recognize each employees’ contribution, to inspire engagement, drive performance, identify growth areas, and facilitate career planning.

KEY TAKEAWAYS From the U.S. L&D Benchmarking Survey: 2018 –Abby Guthrie, Emily Simpson, Shane Adams

Companies who support their staff with quality learning and development are twice as likely to keep employees three years and more likely to report employees are engaged.

Top-performing organizations are five times more likely to have learning cultures, suggesting that a culture of learning is a key component of business success.

90% of companies with strong learning cultures said senior executives were actively engaged in L&D initiatives.

Effective leadership includes fostering a culture of learning, collaboration, and inclusion. Take the time to evaluate what’s working well and what is not, and learn from failures as well as successes.

Would you rate learning in your workplace poor, strong, or in-between?  What can you do to strengthen it?

Developing leaders in the organization is top-of-mind for L&D professionals in 2018.

Divisive or Inclusive?

The effect of leadership failure on any organization of people is the same: Polarization, instability, and if left unchecked, destruction.
–Steve Tobak

We continually provide tips and share stories about becoming a more effective leader, and we also discuss optimal behaviors and skill-sets that the strongest leaders possess.  Why?  Because if we don’t continually work at being our best, we may find that we have unintentionally created instability or uncertainty, and find that our team is floundering.

Effective leaders set the tone for their entire team/organization. They share their vision, mission, goals, and strategies, and they create and communicate a roadmap for reaching the desired point of destination.

They focus on inclusiveness. They communicate. They clarify how each colleague can contribute to achieving shared goals. They help everyone understand how and why they each have a role, helping minimize obstacles within the roadmap.

In Deloitte Insights, Juliet Bourke and Bernadette Dillon published The Six Signature Traits Of Inclusive Leadership:


  • COGNIZANCE – Bias is a leaders Achilles heel
  • CURIOSITY – Different ideas and experiences enable growth
  • CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE – Not everyone sees the world through the same cultural frame
  • COLLABORATION –  A diverse thinking team is greater than the sum of its parts
  • COMMITMENT – Staying the course is hard
  • COURAGE – Talking about imperfections involves personal risk taking

These concepts should sound very familiar.  We equate them to:

Awareness  – of self and others and the value provided
Continual learning – never get complacent or lose the desire to improve and listen to differing perspectives
Emotional Intelligence – understand the difference between IQ and EQ and leverage the strengths
Collaboration – working together to find a solution is a win-win
Accountability, persistence and commitment – don’t give up despite barriers or failures
Courage – We coined the term CourageAbility™ (and wrote a book!)

Is inclusive leadership part of your work culture?


Sources of Pain

For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.
–Margaret Heffernan

Sources of pain.  We’re talking about at work.  Do you know people that complicate your ability to delivery and achieve goals? Do they deflate the energy of those they work with?

Perhaps they are:

  • Disruptive
  • Antagonistic
  • Over committers
  • Under performers
  • Not reliable
  • Lacking accountability
  • Finger pointers
  • Not accepting of differences or change
  • Exhibits dictatorial behaviors

Some refer to these difficult individuals as sources of pain, and the situation/behavior that creates the difficulty must be managed (and the sooner the better).

Here are a few tips that can help:

  • Evaluate whether you could have misunderstood the behavior
  • Try to understand the intention behind the action
  • Be respectful and factual – share your perception with the “source of pain” using facts
  • Assess whether you are the only one experiencing the issue
  • Don’t focus only on the negative; could it just be a bad day or is it a consistent problem?
  • Don’t wait; address it immediately

Human interactions often include conflict, (simply a difference of opinion/perspective) and this can be inspiring, energizing, and thought provoking.

Just remember that it’s up to us as leaders to address any actions/behaviors that negatively impact our ability to obtain desired results.

Are there any sources of pain you need to address?

QWIKTIPS – click to read about 5 Common Leadership Mistakes