“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes… but no plans.”
— Peter Drucker
A commitment is the fire that sits in the center of accountability.
How many times have you made an agreement with yourself – to lose weight? To get the work project done on time? To spend one afternoon to yourself? Only to see time come and go without the outcome you have declared.
How many times have you made an agreement with someone else – a date, a deadline, a deal – only to fail to deliver?
Broken hearts, broken trust, shame and guilt are all heaped onto an experience of an unfulfilled life.
Why do people fail to make the commitments necessary to achieve their desired outcomes?
- fear or avoidance of accountability
- fear of conflict
- worry about what the other may think of you
- Making commitments unconsciously without considering the implications
- Not really understanding exactly what was agreed to
You use words like TRY, COULD, SHOULD, MAYBE, I WISH rather than I WILL. It is the I WILL that creates the commitment. It pushes past the spoken word.
“Commitment is an act, not a word.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre
A commitment is a voluntary, purpose-led, willful movement into action. Commitment requires action. Commitment creates momentum.
The commitment takes into account what matters most and answers the question, “Can I count on you?”.
Unmet commitments, large or small lead to stalled execution, broken trust, sluggish momentum, missed opportunities, poor financial results. Add to that what we are teaching others who are watching us, counting on us – the impact is our loss of integrity. The only way out is to move into action.
“The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment.”
— Tony Robbins
A commitment will be successful when you clearly understand the request and the purpose (or why). You will be able to take action if you have or can obtain the necessary resources. Considering the other priorities in your life and business, you will be able to make a conscious choice. Finally, a thorough inside look at your habitual behavior around keeping commitments will help you develop a mental plan to address any commitment bad habits.
If you ever get stuck, here is a simple 5 step model to move back into action:
- What will you do?
- By when will you do it?
- How will you know you are successful?
- How will I know you are doing it?
- How can we celebrate progress, milestones and outcomes?
In the 6-part Leadership Mastery Workshop Series, students participate in an exercise called Broken Agreements with Self. Identifying three very important goals or desires, they then chronicle all of the ways they have broken commitments with themselves which blocked the outcome they so desired. It’s an eye opener. The amazing thing about this is that the very next workshop (usually a month later) the majority of the participants come back celebrating the committed actions they took to get closer to their outcomes.
They moved from unconscious to conscious. They took one small purposeful step which created momentum.
What game changer are you willing to commit to today to create a higher level of personal leadership? Write it down and take one small action at a time and feel the growing momentum.
Be conscious of what you are committing to. Your word, your integrity and your self-esteem are on the line.
photo credit: freeimages.com/PeteSmith
“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.” – Mother Teresa
Appreciation is the bread of life. It’s the sustenance that creates growth, humanity, connection and joy. Appreciation creates emotional safety and connection. It is the fuel that creates trust, commitment and willingness to engage.
We’ve not spent a lot of time building the appreciation muscle. Usually focused on a problem that needs to be solved or a goal to be met, our heads get stuck in the sand of tasks and we neglect to check in with our hearts. The result – people feel more and more disengaged, unacknowledged. The impact on self-motivation and team behavior shows up in the latest Gallup Poll findings that less than 30% of workers feel engaged.
- Oddly misplaced perception of power
- It makes one vulnerable
- Fear of appearing insincere
- We think no news is good news
- We are oblivious
- We believe emotions don’t belong in the workplace
- High driving leaders are more focused on the finish line than the participants
Sincere expression of appreciation is needed now more than ever. Fast-paced, results-driven, technologically-motivated workforces can become de-humanized. Appreciation restores the human connection. People need people. Connected people who feel appreciated and involved create good outcomes. The world needs your appreciation – right now. We’ve got some work to do on this planet and it won’t happen quite so easily without appreciation.
Create an Environment of Appreciation with 10 Simple Steps:
- Make it Personal
- Find out what you appreciate about yourself. Keep a gratitude journal.
- Write it out
- Send written appreciation cards on a regular, disciplined basis.
- Count your blessings
- Then re-count them to the person who helped create them.
- Practice forgiveness
- Everybody benefits from a bit of slack, including you.
- Acknowledge the little details
- What’s that little extra you can offer? what’s that little extra that you are noticing.
- Make a choice
- You are in charge of your feelings and your thoughts and your actions. Be the leader in your own life by choosing. Choose gratitude and appreciation.
- Drip method
- Make expressing your appreciation a daily practice.
- Show a Little Emotion
- Let others know how their actions or being-ness impact you.
- Expect nothing in return
- The good feeling is its own reward.
- Don’t Delay
- You may think you have all the time in the world, but you don’t. Let the people you care about know how much you appreciate them. Today.
When my teams go through their 6 months of leadership training, we end our series with expressions of appreciation. I am privileged to witness the transformation that happens when the person receives it and how it is magnified as the group offers it. It’s life-changing.
Regular expressions of appreciation become a way of being. It’s part of your own leadership integrity. And don’t forget about karma. Even expecting nothing in return, you must know by now that what you give out returns to you abundantly.
Here’s a little magic from our old friend, Wayne Dyer:
“Give yourself a gift of five minutes of contemplation in awe of everything you see around you. Go outside and turn your attention to the many miracles around you. This five-minute-a-day regimen of appreciation and gratitude will help you to focus your life in awe.”
Spend the day in appreciation and see what magic you create.
Here’s a good one from the client question vault:
How do you react to an individual who won’t accept or receive your feedback?
True feedback, offered in the spirit of improvement, is not easy to give – especially if you are a conscious leader. You need to be aware of your own opinions and judgments and you need to be willing to obtain all sides of a story or situation before proceeding. Even then, the person on the receiving end may discount what you are offering. The trick is to not take it personally and move into a neutral position as swiftly as possible.
You are offering the gift of feedback but you cannot make the other person open your gift. You can, however, take some steps that will make you more effective.
Here are 7 tips that will make you feedback-ready when dealing with defensive people:
1. With respect and compassion, acknowledge the fact that you perceive defensiveness from the other person and ask what would make it easier for them to receive feedback.
2. Check your opinion at the door and speak from fact and behavioral observation.
3. If the feedback is mission critical, make sure the other person understands the impact of the behavior or situation and the potential consequences if it is left unchanged.
4. Create emotional safety before launching into feedback by beginning the conversation with a personal connection, offering a positive opening, or simply acknowledging the fact that feedback is tough to give and to receive.
5. Be aware of your own emotional triggers or personal biases that might affect how you offer feedback.
6. Work with your own discomfort about offering feedback. The other person will pick up on your discomfort, not feel safe in the conversation and the result may be defensiveness.
7. If you keep banging your head against the same wall expecting different results, don’t offer the feedback unless point three above is applicable.
The only way to offer great feedback is to practice. In practice a person makes mistakes. Use these “errors” as course corrections to improve. With your continued improvement over time, even the most defensive of people will be more open to your feedback.
Leaders make promises. The great leaders do what it takes to keep those promises.
This is never truer than when making promises to yourself.
This is the time of year for “resolutions”, a word that seems stern and righteous. Resolution sounds like something outside of you.
University of Scranton research suggests that of the 45% of Americans who make resolutions, one in three will ditch them by the end of January and a whopping 73% give up before ever reaching their desired resolution.
Why not make a promise instead? A promise is personal. There is more at stake.
Here are a 5 Tips to support you to make powerful promises….
Simple – Don’t complicate the promise. State it as though you were six years old. Don’t lump multiple promises together and don’t add side notes or caveats.
Specific – “I promise to lose weight” is vague and not really actionable. “I promise to prepare a healthy home cooked meal three times per week” is more specific. Vague and broad statements create confusion. Specifics lead to action.
Purpose – Understand why you are making this particular promise. You are likely solving a surface issue, but what if you dug a little deeper to understand the Why beneath the Why? When the surface issue is resolved by keeping your promise, what deeper need is satisfied or soothed?
Structure – Make your promise and understand how you will get it done. Promises are simply words unless action is involved. Sketch out a path of execution. Your brain likes to follow a path and finds safety in structure.
Forgive – Promises made by you to you are likely the first to be neglected in busy or stressful times. If you fall off the path, stop for a moment and forgive yourself. And then hop on the path again. All you have likely lost is a little momentum.
By the way, these five tips are also designed to support the promises you make to others.
For now, take stock of the things you want to create in the coming year and use the five tips to keep you aligned with those desires by making promises with yourself.
Some of your highest producing salespeople can be a handful when it comes to leadership and managing emotions. This is especially true when your high producing person is not feeling the love of the sale. The very nature of high performance requires a healthy ego drive which needs to be stoked. It’s a seesaw: each conquest creates a boost of self-esteem and the failure to sell diminishes it. If this goes on too long, emotions can go awry. Frustration, finger pointing, depression or self-doubt are common expressions.
Emotionally Intelligent Leader that you are, it may be up to you to create an emotionally safe environment for the expression AND transmutation of the emotions.
Visiting with one of my superstar clients recently, he shared his secret formula for creating the safe space for his high performers.
Suspend agendas and preconceptions and clear a space in your brain and heart to simply listen.
Create a safe place for emotions to emerge by tapping into your compassion. Without becoming hooked or triggered by the emotional expression, the venting runs out of steam.
When you observe the emotions, you can see the triggers. Acute observation, especially if the venting is repetitive, gives you the knowledge of what triggers your salesperson out of her game.
Establishing a structure for one-on-ones with 80% focus on the person and 20% on the results, builds trust and feeds the recognition machine. (PS – this goes hand in hand with point one, Listening). Create appropriate boundaries that are free from shame.
By remaining neutral and empathetic in all conversations, you create a consistent pattern of behavior and interaction. Emotional balance ensures that you are able to offer feedback, brainstorm and bump your person back to their emotional center without any of your own triggers getting in the way.
Year end is around the corner. With annual quotas and sales goals on the line, it’s never too early to create an emotionally safe environment for your employees. End the year on an emotional high and begin 2015 with great momentum.
photo credit © Kinzie Riehm/Corbis
During the SWOT of a recent strategic planning session with a client, the leader posed a weakness to the group.
“I don’t want to be surrounded by ‘yes’ men, anymore”.
He wanted people who would participate with him, tell him the truth and challenge his ideas from time to time.
Are you surrounded by those who are afraid to challenge your authority? Are you surrounded by those reluctant to pose a counter thought or idea? On the other hand, are YOU willing to say what you see?
One of my favorite business leaders is a prophet found in the Judeo-Christian Old Testament. He has a small, recurring walk-on role yet his impact reverberates and sets the tone for the rest of the story – and it’s a BIG story. An entire New Testament story.
This character is Nathan.
Nathan served in the court of the king as a trusted advisor. King David, born of humble beginnings and moved to greatness through purpose and alignment, had lost his way. Forgetting what he was here on earth to do, power went to his head. He was a king, for heaven’s sake, and that’s some positional power! As he got lost inside of his title, he took another man’s wife and then killed that man to get him out of the way. Totally justified as the king, he went along his merry way. A big leadership gaffe was left unaddressed because, after all, who was going to ruin his palace career by challenging such authority?
Ahhh, but here comes Nathan. Nathan has deep love for David and for his purpose and for what he knows can be created through him. At great risk to himself, he says what he sees. That act of courage allows David to see what he needs to see to shift and change and re-engage as the leader.
Nathan – the name means, “A gift”. What better gift can we give our leaders than to say what we see, to bring the light of truth forward, to offer feedback, to say ‘no’ when it needs to be said?
Nathan proves himself a worthy servant, a supportive friend and a true leader.
What can you learn from Nathan? There are five actions to be admired and emulated that Nathan role-modeled to fulfill his leadership purpose.
- I Care Enough About You – Tough love is not mean. Tough love involves the courage to bring a murky situation into light or to hold another accountable to their highest and best. When you care enough about the person and the vision, you will create a space for truth and love. When you say what you see, without judgment or censure, things can shift and change for the greater good.
- I Will Meet You Where You Are – Nathan used a story to create an opening for David to recognize himself. Sometimes people can’t hear the bald truth. A wise leader meets the person where they are and then finds a way to deliver the feedback so that it can be received. Be aware when you are feeling righteous about the situation. Wise leaders lead with the relationship.
- I Lead on Purpose – Lead on purpose and you are connected to a higher order. This makes you teachable, ethical and aligned. You can focus on the common good, rather than career politics. Like Nathan, when you are on purpose, you are aligned to the larger vision with personal agenda taking a back seat.
- You and I Are More Than Our Titles – Wise leaders walk among their followers. Wise followers find a way to remind their leaders of that. Nathan found equal footing for a greater purpose. Find the courage to flatten the hierarchy and say what needs to be said.
- I Practice Forgiveness and Offer Renewal – Leaders are human and they stumble and fall like the rest of us. In the spotlight and high on the org chart, the fall can be hard and very public. What Nathan shows you is to communicate feedback in private, practice empathy so that the other can self-discover, and then be willing to participate in the transformation. Offer support, hold space, and create agreements.
You can find your teachers anywhere….in the office, in literature, in scripture, in your family. Is there a Nathan you are not listening to right now? Is there a situation that requires you to be Nathan? Find the courage and change the course of history.
Photo credit: © Arman Zhenikeyev/Corbis
For more than 150 years, Gay Head Light has stood high atop the cliffs of Martha’s Vineyard, its guiding light sweeping out to sea. Battered by storms, almost hidden by fog, threatened with erosion, the lighthouse is stalwart in its beacon of hope. Those lost in the elements only had to look for the sweeping light to find their way.
As a leader, mastering the heART of your business, you are the lighthouse. You are the last bastion of hope. You are the inspiration and guiding force when others lose their way.
Hope is different than optimism. Optimism is important in life and business. Yet, optimism is dependent on shifting circumstances and opinions. Hope is deeply wired into your heart and soul and, even if the light dims somewhat, is ever-present. Hope involves a deep motivation and belief in self while optimism involves expectation.
“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” – Vaclav Havel
David Henderson of Montana State University sums it up well in his moving blog post for The Center for Courage and Renewal following the shootings at Sandy Hook:
“Optimism claims everything will be all right despite reality. Hope accepts reality, the poverty of spirit that underlies all fear, instigates all tragedies, bureaucracy and institutional inertia. But hope has a trump card—the capacity of the human heart. When optimism gets ground up by reality, hope will go toe-to-toe with reality because of a heart that simply refuses to quit…it simply knows the human heart’s capacity to withstand those realities, and it trusts in the inexhaustible power of our hearts to choose love over fear.”
I’m not debating the merits of optimism over hope or the other way around. I am simply honoring that you have a deep love for the work you are doing and with that, a well-spring of hope that refuses to let you quit.
Athletes with higher levels of hope are higher performers. Furthermore, based on research with college students, hope has a considerable relationship to academic achievement. If this is true, and science bears it out, it stands to reason that a leader imbued with hope will have a similar type of success.
Hope is like a muscle. Muscles are more effective when they are given a work out. Here are five steps to strengthen your hope muscles. The brighter your light of hope, the greater your capacity to inspire others into meaningful action.
- Take responsibility for your own creation. It’s efficient to place blame but it’s not effective. Hope springs from those who take 100% responsibility for thought, word and deed. The quicker you can accept that whatever is in your path has been created by with and for you, the quicker you will be able to change what doesn’t suit you. Which brings us to step two.
- See every occurrence as an opportunity for learning. Everything that happens is a source of new knowledge. “Failure” is course correction. The tough situations facing you are curriculum designed to strengthen you. Follow the patterns or trends of your behavior and thoughts to see the connections. Release what doesn’t work for you. Learn so that you can grow and help others, too.
- Inspire the beacon of hope light in others. Others may need your light. Caught up in victim or defense or justification or lack of vision, others will look to you to re-inspire their hope. Ask questions. Show appreciation. Empathize but don’t care-take. Let others know they are capable of practicing steps one and two above and then role-model how it’s done. Hope doesn’t require a rah-rah parade, rather it requires consistency.
- Always reach for the next highest emotion. You have a choice about how you feel. Abraham-Hicks has been teaching the Emotional Guidance Scale for years. Of the 22 emotions listed, despair is number 22 and hopefulness is number 6 (joy/love takes the top spot). That means there are more than a dozen emotions between despair and hope. Keep reaching for the next highest emotion until you dig out of the hole. Again, you have a choice about how you feel.
- Work on purpose. The most hopeful people know why they do what they do. They work on purpose. They have a guiding set of values or principles and they know what they stand for. Re-tool your purpose statement and remind yourself daily to be purposeful in your hopeful activity. The lighthouse has a purpose too – bring the sailors to shore safely. What is yours?
Finally, hope creates resilience. The ability to find the light in the storm and to bounce back from undesired circumstance is part of our DNA.
Leaders inspire hope – that’s why they lead.
You – yes, you! You are a spotlight leader. Each person in a position of influence and authority finds themselves in the spotlight. People are overt or covert in their observations but, rest assured, they are looking at you.
So, what’s your job? Keep the spotlight bright with behaviors and attitudes that you want repeated in your organization – those Emotionally Intelligent and Leader-Inspired ongoing behaviors. Be aware of being lulled into a place where you think you’re free from the spotlight, because you are not. That’s what you signed up for when you agreed to lead. People want you to be the best you can be but they are also morbidly curious and titillated when you fall.
As the light shines brightly on you, here are five suggestions that will keep you on top of your game, and also support others to their best efforts:
- Be a maven of inspiration. Believe, believe some more, and then call attention to how the belief shows up in behavior and results. Celebrate.
- Set the course by creating meaning. People want to know where they are going and why. A good leader is open about where we are headed and able to create meaning for the movement. The people grab onto the meaning that’s created and then catch the wave.
- Communicate what success looks like. Don’t assume that others know what you expect. Tell them. Be specific. Let them know the end game and the milestones along the way. Share where you see possible pitfalls. And then let them know what the inspection process looks like so there are no surprises. People want to contribute and win – show them how.
- Learn together. Make mistakes and then learn together. Share your mistake and the learning that ensued. Model how to pick yourself up to start anew. People who are afraid of the consequences of failure will not risk. Without risk, there is no innovation. Make the mistake, learn publicly, course correct and begin again.
- Make decisions about counter-culture revolutionaries quickly. People are watching you to see what you tolerate. If clear direction, course correction, honest feedback and peer pressure does not work, make sure to exit those who are counter-culture. Be human about it – but do it!
Every day you are “client-facing”. Your internal clients are always in front of you. They shine their spotlights of curiosity and evaluation. Are you to be trusted? Are you real? Do you act with integrity? With that in mind, how do you make every interaction authentic, real and connecting?
Photo Credit: marfis75
Everything begins with the brain. The brain engaged with the heart is a powerful thing. The heart/brain can sometimes get disengaged with stress or the need for an immediate outcome. You rely on your past experience or future-forgiveness to get through. Without a conscious commitment to your mind-set, what every part of our brain is telling you, you can make mistakes in the name of expediency.
This is true, and sometimes harmful, when it comes to creating engagement in the employee life cycle.
How goes your hiring? Is it time to tune up your processes? Maybe you are attracting the so-so rather than the go-go? Does the idea that Jim Collin’s espouses in Good to Great, “First Who Then What”, seem frivolous in the heat of battle?
When in the heat of expansion, or pressed to the wall because of staffing issues, the brain goes to survival mode and you may be tempted to place anybody in a position just to have some relief. The stress may lead to the decision to short-shrift on training. Fear of losing a body leads to non-direct performance feedback. Frustration leads to termination. The cycle begins again. Sound familiar? You are not alone.
One simple Brain Hijack around your hiring decision or your feedback communication could breed disaster for the engagement of your overall team.
So, let’s start with your brain and take a loop around the Employment Cycle – from hiring to firing – and see if you can be persuaded to hire and nurture the WHO for your company.
What your stress is telling you: Get a Body
Mindset Re-Frame: “With crystal clear vision, I know the characteristics and skills required and I am willing to wait for the right person. I have a simple hiring strategy which includes probing for the cultural and behavioral characteristics that best fit my company. I am willing to suffer my discomfort to respectfully ask the tough questions from the start.”
Orientation to On the Job Training:
What your expedience is telling you: We’ll figure it out as we go along
Mindset Re-Frame: “Do we know, together, what success looks like? My job is not complete until you have the resources that you need. I believe in you. I’ve created this training outline which will allow you to see the path and what success outcomes look like. I feel confident that I can factually and neutrally point you in the right direction.”
First Corrective Performance Feedback:
What your concern is telling you: This employee is doing it wrong
Mindset Re-Frame: “There is no shame or blame, simply course correction. I’m probably feeling a little frustrated because I wanted your performance to be effortlessly great. I own my frustration and can put it to the side to communicate the facts and the path. Now, let’s look at what success looks like together.”
Coaching, Counseling and Discipline:
What your frustration is telling you: I’m going to write you up
Mindset Re-Frame: “Maybe I’ll need to formally document the discipline, but I have to have the conversation first. In seeking to understand, maybe I get some different information about a resolution. I owe it to you to share judgment free honesty about the impact and consequences of the behavior. I hold you as powerful enough to create and agree to an action plan for change.”
What your shame/blame is telling you: I made a bad choice
Mindset Re-Frame: “This position or place of employment is not a fit for all. I don’t need to blame or shame. With respect, I set you free to find the perfect job fit for you. I now have an opportunity to start at the beginning and make sure that my hiring plan is in good shape to find a great fit.”
Let’s sum up:
- You have to hire great people who fit your culture. Avoid the warm body syndrome.
- You have to train them according to a plan. Everybody needs to know where they are going and why.
- You have to be willing to course-correct performance as it is occurring and do so with fact and respect.
- You have to coach and counsel with your own discipline, allowing the other person to create the change – or not.
- You have to be willing to release and terminate those who demonstrate behavior that doesn’t work for your company.
And you have to be willing to do all of these things with a brain connected to your heart.
The logical plan combined with empathy creates safety for your employees. Emotionally safe, yet inspired employees deliver the highest level of engagement. Create engagement at every opportunity by getting on to your mindset and being willing to shift and change what’s not working for you.