7 Secrets That Increase Your Leadership Impact

By Brian Braudis

 A major concern for senior executives is “bench strength”—that is, the quantity and quality of up-and-coming, potential leaders who are in the pipeline. The problem is that too often these would-be leaders “hold back, shrink and play small.” One CEO recently said, “The potential leaders in our pipeline need to show up, step up, and increase their leadership impact.”

True. An organization is only as strong as its leadership.

In today’s climate of unprecedented change, intense competition and more demanding customers, leaders can’t hold back or shrink. Team members need leadership to model the way because all they see in this modern-day complexity is uncertainty and that leads to anxiety. Team members are looking to leadership for certainty, definitive guidance, vision and a solid commitment. This is an opportunity for leadership impact.

Here Are 7 Secrets to Increase Your Leadership Impact:

1. Shift the Energy of Your Team: With composure, increase and elevate your communications. Share your higher perspective and calm the anxiety with your increased presence and obvious commitment. Neutralize the teardown effect of uncertainty and anxiety. Shift the energy of your team toward purpose. You can’t just remove the deconstructive nature of negativity without replacing it with something. Use purpose to drive the conversation. Strategically use each day to keep your organizational purpose in front of your team members. Talk about your mission. Get them excited about growing and serving your clients, customers and stakeholders. Share the growth you see and the future you envision. When your team has a growth mindset it’s only natural that your organization will grow.

There will always be uncertainty but when you demonstrate resolute certainty in your commitment to your team, anxiety drops, morale increases, team members take note and follow your lead. 

2. Collaborate: Bigger results come from bigger efforts. Instill collaboration within divisions and across programs. Use your leadership presence to convert dissonance to connectedness, silos into solidarity, problems into innovations, risk into reward and daily efforts into a dramatically improved future. Set the behavioral norm by becoming known as the leader interested in organizational successover individual success. When you execute on a higher and larger perspective, you instantly increase leadership impact.

3. Cultivate Creativity: Open the floodgates of creativity by asking more questions. The days of one leader with all the answers are past. In all likelihood your team is bursting with new ideas. You don’t have to be Michelangelo, just ask powerful questions and be patient.—the innovation will come pouring out in the discussions. Team members are intimately familiar with problems. They simply need you to provide them the space to contemplate how today’s problems can become tomorrow’s innovations.

4. Use Influence Not Power: No one likes a pompous leader. Rather than relying on the shortsighted and limiting power of position, reap the long-term benefits that come from building trust and influence. If you use power, good people will leave you and other people will get you.

When you rely on the external power of your leadership position you not only expose weakness in yourself, you build weakness in others by forcing them to acquiesce, stifling their growth and the potential for their unique contribution. Ultimately, the entire relationship is weakened. Defensiveness ensues, low trust follows and potential for cooperation is lost—smothered by negative emotion. Fight the imprudent impulse to command, and direct and invest in the higher, more refined skills of finesse, influence and persuasion.

Patience, finesse, influence and persuasion are the building blocks of increased impact.

5. Promote Daily Progress: Leaders are only deemed successful if they get results and they get those results through working with people. The only way people do great things is by focusing on their strengths and possibilities. Leaders set the stage for this focus.

On any given day your team’s efforts will be influenced by a mix of perceptions, emotions, and motivations that can either pull them to higher performance or drag them down. Setbacks can send team spirit spiraling downward to the point where frustration and disgust take over.

Leaders have tremendous influence in promoting daily progress by ensuring team members have the environment they need to make steady progress and maintain momentum. Avoid the toxicity of high pressure, punitive and judgmental measures that constrain momentum.

Rather, set clear goals for meaningful work. Provide autonomy and promote ownership of the outcomes. Nourish your team’s efforts through affiliation, showing respect, words of encouragement and minimizing daily hassles.

6. Build a Body of Behavior: Be more of a model than a critic. Eschew the all-too-common “Killer Cs” that will keep you in the weakness of victim mode. Negativity will rob you of energy, initiative and impact.

Avoid These Killer Cs

  • Criticizing
  • Complaining
  • Competing
  • Comparing
  • Colluding
  • Contending

Don’t criticize. Talk about what went well. Show your team what is possible. Add energy to the context. Be consistent. Your team is faced with being productive in spite of problems and hassles. When they know that they can consistently count on you for support and direction, momentum skyrockets.

7. Focus on What is Right, Not Who is Right: Team members rely on leaders to create an environment that is impartial, where everyone has the same opportunities that are based on merit. Don’t take sides. Use conflict to demonstrate your commitment to organizational success. Model a higher perspective that lifts others from their petty preoccupations and carries them above the fray. Be a stronghold trailblazer that guides the upward purpose of your team.

The unique and distinct actions of a leader create ripples that increase and spread delivering ever-increasing impact that can be felt within and among teams. The greatest impact however, is felt industry-wide as a unique and distinct competitive advantage that is difficult, if not impossible for others to duplicate. When you employ these seven secrets and increase your leadership impact, you set up your entire team for success.

Brian Braudis is a highly sought-after human potential expert, certified coach, speaker and author of High Impact Leadership: 10 Action Strategies for Your Ascent. He has also authored several audio programs from executive leadership development to stress management. Brian believes “leadership” is a verb not a title. Brian’s passionate and inspiring presentations are based on the foundation that regardless of your position or role everyone is a leader. For more information on Brian Braudis, please visit: www.TheBraudisGroup.com

To Succeed as a Leader, Share the Big Picture

By Walt Grassl

Walt GrasslMike worked for a medium-sized business and went to work every day happy to have a job. But he wasn’t too enthused about his work environment. Employee morale was so-so because most long-time employees were merely going through the motions.

Greg was a friend of Mike’s from college. They both went to work, but in different industries. They stayed in touch on social media and decided to get together for lunch.

Mike picked Greg up at his work place. He felt inspired when he entered Greg’s building. There was an energy that was hard to describe. It was definitely not the same as at his company. He was warmly greeted by the receptionist and waited in the pristine lobby for Greg.

At lunch, Mike asked Greg about his job and what he liked about working there. Greg mentioned that the company has a management philosophy that every employee is important, like the links in a chain. They believe in sharing information that reinforces that message.

Every employee plays a role in the company’s performance. It is important that they know their role. This gives them a sense of purpose. It answers the question, “Why does it matter?” Some people always take great pride in their work. They know it reflects on them. Some people only push themselves when others are relying on them to do their part. Sharing the big picture helps to get the most out of these people. Getting the small things right leads to bigger success.

Here are five different strategies a leader can use to foster a workplace where every employee feels valued and can contribute to the overall vision of the company.

  1. Include all employees in strategy meetings: To the extent possible, involve employees in strategy meetings. When you are contemplating a change in the company’s direction, modifying one or more processes or seeking new methods to improve delivery, involve the people who perform the tasks before decisions are finalized. They are liable to push back. When they do, use your wisdom and judgement to determine if the push back is valid. If it is valid, figure out a better path forward. This will prevent mistakes that save time and reduce waste. If it is the natural reaction to resist change, deal with it now. You will avoid passive-aggressive behavior that will sabotage the path forward. Done right, you will earn the respect and buy-in of your team members. However, things like impending job actions (layoffs, promotions, transfers) must never be shared until it is time. When you are otherwise open, the need for discretion will be respected.
  2. Stress the importance of every position: A good leader knows how every employee contributes to the overall performance of the company. Some employees interface with customers. Others provide a clean and safe work environment. Some create the finished product. All the employees play a part in the success of the company. Good leaders praise the individuals and the teams, both in public and in private, for the significant contribution they make to success of the organization. This is important. Over time, people who don’t deal with the finished product may forget the significance of their role. They need to be reminded.
  3. See the Big Picture: There is a common fallacy in the workplace that one job contributes more than others to the success of the project or company. It is a great thing when employees realize that what they do is important. It is not so good, however, when the needs of the other employees and other affiliated organizations are discounted. Local optimization can result in less than optimal total performance. Explain to your teams the bigger picture. Look at the needs of the other teams and individuals. Understand the other’s position. Explain your organization’s role and the roles of your internal suppliers and internal customers. Keep focused on the end-to-end process, not only your link in the chain.
  4. Your Business Story: The most powerful story for any business is the story of why the company exists. Who founded the company? What problem did the company originally solve? How did the company evolve into its current state? This works for businesses of all sizes. This is effective in external sales presentations. It is also effective in keeping employees motivated. When that story is known and repeated, employees will realize that they are part of growing or preserving a legacy.
  5. Maintain an open-door policy: When you involve employees in strategy, communicate the importance of the roles of each employee and see both the big picture of the company and the reason why the company exists, your employees will see you as someone who not only talks communication, but communicates. You can further enhance that relationship by having an open-door policy. Set boundaries and let people know, but invite people to approach you with their concerns or questions. Maybe they come to you. Maybe you walk around and catch them doing things right.

When you share the big picture, every employee feels valued. They know they play a role in the success of the company. Job satisfaction increases. It costs little to do this and brings back big returns.

Driving back to work, Mike realized that this aspect of work culture was missing from his company. He thought about his role and how it fit into the bigger picture. He felt better about his job. He vowed to look for ways to help his fellow employees understand their roles in the bigger picture, as well.

Walt Grassl is a speaker, author, and performer. He hosts the radio show, “Stand Up and Speak Up,” on the RockStar Worldwide network. Walt has performed standup comedy at the Hollywood Improv and the Flamingo in Las Vegas and is studying improv at the Groundlings School in Hollywood. For more information on bringing Walt Grassl to your next event, please visit www.WaltGrassl.com.

An Integrity Self-Test For Leaders

By Dave Martin

“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower

Integrity:

  • It is essential for every leader.
  • It cannot be bought.
  • It cannot be delegated.
  • It is recognized across all cultures, races, and eras.
  • It is wholly unassociated with economic status.
  • It is the ultimate measure of a leader.

Although many people struggle to completely define integrity, most everyone can recognize it. You know someone you trust completely. You know someone whose word is his or her bond. You know someone who would not compromise. You know someone who would tell the truth, would stand by their promises, and would keep their agreements, even when it hurt them. Integrity is doing the right thing. The question we all ask ourselves is, “Are we that ‘someone’ other people think of when asked to name a person of integrity?”

The following self-test has five questions to ask yourself. These answers are for you alone, and the only way for the test to work is for you to answer the questions honestly and transparently. It is not about perfection. It is not about comparison. Integrity is personal. If, as you read the following questions, you begin to think that your initial personal integrity evaluation was perhaps optimistic, do not despair. Integrity is built over a lifetime of doing the right thing. Appreciate that your attention has been drawn to these areas and let it make your future decisions more considered and intentional.

How would you react in the following scenarios?

  • You have just heard an extremely compromising—but unfounded—bit of information about the guy at your office who has the position you desire. Should he move on, you have a very strong possibility of being promoted to his position. This move would almost double your current salary. Furthermore, you have never liked the guy. Do you casually share the gossip?
  • You were delayed at the office, then you were stuck in traffic for an extra 45 minutes, and you have a dinner engagement that is pressing. As you walk in the door, the phone rings and your teen says, “It’s for you. It’s that insurance guy that talks forever!” You say, “Just tell him I was delayed, and I’m not home yet.” Yes or no?
  • You have a small team of direct reports, and you are responsible for their reviews, salary raises, and bonus amounts. Last year, you told your sales guy that if he doubled his sales, you would double his bonus. To your surprise, he showed up at today’s review with a documented increase in sales of twice his number from the previous year. Although you clearly have not kept up with his monthly sales, you do know that the bonus amount you were allocated is not enough to cover his increase without decreasing your own. Do you explain that you are delighted with his work, promise great things in his future, and give him a moderate increase? Or do you keep your word and double his bonus, even though you are personally left with a fraction of what you had anticipated?
  • On your way back to the office from an early meeting, you stop for coffee. The line is long, and by the time you have your latte, you sincerely wish you had opted for the drive through. You hand the barista a $20, and she gives you change. As you are leaving, you realize that instead of giving you a $10 and change, she mistakenly gave you a $20 and change. Do you go back to return the extra $10, or do you consider it your lucky day? After all, you did have to wait.
  • Your child desperately wants to play in the city soccer league, and the teams are based on your geographic location. The team roster for your area is full, but the team where your sister lives has one remaining opening. Do you put her address on the application so your child can play soccer this year?

Integrity. It is a quality of being—not of doing—but the great paradox is, it is completely based on what one does. It has been said that unless a leader has integrity, they are just a manager. This statement may be viewed through many lenses, but certainly, the true determination of a leader is in the loyalty of his followers. To engender that willingness to follow, integrity is indeed essential.

Integrity is doing the right thing, every time. It is being upstanding and honorable. Great leaders have integrity. This means they will do exactly what they say they will do. Circumstances may change. New situations may arise. The agreement may no longer be beneficial. Nevertheless, the great leader will keep his word. He will not compromise his principles for convenience or advantage. Are you a leader of integrity?

Dave Martin, Your Success Coach, is a world-renowned speaker and the international best-selling author of 12 Traits of the Greats and Another Shot. For over 25 years, Dave has been a mentor, inspirational speaker, coach, and business leader. Using these experiences, Dave shares timeless truths, wrapped in humor and delivered with passion, teaching people how to pursue and possess a life of success. For more information on Dave, please visit www.davemartin.org.

Twenty-First Century Leadership Intelligence

By Magi Graziano

Magi GrazianoBeing an effective leader of people in today’s world seems to be much more complicated than in years past. In the previous century, for the vast majority, work was approached as a means for survival. The level of employee engagement did not dictate how long they stayed in the role. That’s different today, however. Working class people are always looking for more stimulating and rewarding work, as well as inspiring work environments where they can make a difference and grow themselves and their careers.

Global workforce surveys report that highly qualified, motivated people chose to work for companies that build a strong, inspiring culture and that monitor and address both workplace culture and climate issues as they arise. If recruitment and retention of highly qualified, motivated people is one your organization‘s initiatives, leadership intelligence ought to be another. They go hand in hand.

Leaders in the early twenty-first century face unprecedented challenges. They must be able to lead three completely different generations of people, all with different operating contexts and outlooks on what work is all about. Today’s leaders must not only understand their competitors for customers, they must also understand their competitors for the talent. Twenty-first century leaders must have well-honed human awareness acumen and call on it moment-by-moment to inspire, enroll and engage their employees. These leaders must understand the systemic impacts of their company ‘climate’ and be willing to look deeper to understand cultural norms that are impeding agility and innovation. They must have the finesse to weave the day-to-day task work into the big picture and inspire their people to give it their all for the sake of the mission. Today’s leaders need to understand people at their core like never before.

Leadership Intelligence relies on your ability to grow, learn, and master new ways to lead people, and there are three tenets to consider when boosting it: Self-awareness, Executive Brain Function, and Response Agility.

1) Self–awareness: Self-awareness begins with the curiosity and courage to hear what works and does not work about your leadership and the culture that exists in the organization. Once you become aware of your competitive talent advantages and your talent barriers from the eyes of your people, you are equipped to take powerful action. Self-awareness allows you to leverage your talent and intervene when and where necessary to remove those personality ticks that are in the way of your true leadership potential.

Culture and climate awareness opens the door for you to see what is really going on and intervene in the cultural norms and barriers that are in the way of employee engagement, innovation, and synchronicity. When you are curious and courageous you begin to ask the tough questions and hear the tough answers. When you do this, you begin to see what “blind spots” may be hidden from your view and you learn what you to that sabotages or impedes your leadership effectiveness.

Self-Awareness is the doorway to emotional intelligence and it gives you access to real improvement as well as personal and professional development. Self-Awareness is not always easy. In almost every case with every human being there are aspects of personality or behavior that has a negative impact on others, and with an authentic look in the mirror an aware leader can begin to take responsibility for that negative impact. Being aware of our negative behaviors, alone, is insufficient. Taking responsibility for the impact of those behaviors, asking for forgiveness and working to shift those limiting ways of being is where Leadership Intelligence begins. Once a leader has mastered self-awareness they optimize their ability to leverage situational awareness; which is fundamental to assessing, evaluating and intervening if need be, in the ebbs and flow of the climate and culture of their organization.

2) Executive Brain Function: Optimizing your Executive Brain function is a secret weapon of Leadership Intelligence. The PFC (prefrontal cortex) is where the executive brain operates; it is like the controls in a cockpit. This is the part of our brain where strategic thinking, collaboration, reasoning, and creativity come from. The problem is most leaders learn over time to depend and lean on one hemisphere and become complacent in allowing that hemisphere to run the show. This limits the airplane’s ability to navigate through storms and soar to new heights.

The left hemisphere of our brain is where our organization, categorizing, reasoning, and strategizing come from. It is in the right hemisphere where brainstorming, innovation, collaboration, and relationship abilities are housed. When a leader is aware of their goals and visions as well as in control (conscious) of their thoughts, responses, and well-being—and the leader uses both hemispheres of their executive brain through right/left hemisphere integration—their leadership intelligence and effectiveness skyrockets. When a leader is utilizing all of their capacities, they see things they might not see and are more equipped to respond to climate and culture barriers and infringements.

3) Response Agility: Response Agility is the ability to respond in an appropriate, controlled manner—regardless of the current stress or breakdown the leader is facing. Being agile with response and reaction is key to effective leadership. Flat line reaction is not appropriate for all situations. Screaming and yelling is not appropriate for any situation. Anger and frustration might be needed at times, and curiosity and collaboration may be needed at other times.

Agility in your response means that you have trained yourself to think before reacting. Effective leaders ask themselves, “What is needed now?” This has everything to do with situational awareness and appropriate reaction. When stress hits the fan at work, a leader who has a handle on how they respond, and can coach others in this manner, is a leader who is positively contributing to a healthy company climate and culture. Response agility takes discipline, awareness, new habit formation, and commitment and is a core component of Leadership Intelligence.

Being a mission-driven leader who inspires people to give their best in service of a compelling vision is a key element of today’s most successful leaders. They know that most people they hire are not coming to work simply for a paycheck; these leaders have a keen awareness that many people they hire are coming to work to fulfill their individual purpose in a way that supports the organizational purpose. Today’s highly effective leaders understand how to inspire spirit de corps and leverage their communications with people to do so. They utilize their people intelligence to tie work responsibilities and tasks to the overall intention for and strategy of the business. Last, these leaders understand the difference between climate and culture and have the aptitude to know how and when to intervene in both.

Learning the fundamentals of how people operate and how to inspire them is the easy part. Mastering those skills is leadership intelligence. Turning your leadership intelligence into your competitive talent advantage is the number one way to impact recruitment and retention of the best people.

Magi Graziano, as seen on NBC, is the CEO of Conscious Hiring® and Development, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert and author of The Wealth of Talent. Through her expansive knowledge and captivating presentations, Magi provides her customers with actionable, practical ideas to maximize their effectiveness and ability to create high-performing teams. With more than 20 years’ experience as a top producer in the Recruitment and Search industry, she empowers and enables leaders to bring transformational thinking to the day-to-day operation. For more information on Magi please visit www.keenalignment.com.

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6 C’s of a Visionary Organization

By Eliakim Thorpe

Eliakim ThorpePeter and Christine are co-owners who’ve now been in business for more than ten years. They have experienced tremendous growth but recently decided to schedule a meeting to discuss the current state of their organization and how they can remain relevant, competitive, and sustainable in an ever-changing economy.

What began as a meeting to discuss the past successes and current state of the organization turned quickly into a dialogue about an organization not simply driven by revenue margins but a company governed by an organizational vision which becomes the living and breathing force behind its every action.

Vision is the tension between what was, what is, and what will be. It reaffirms an organization’s reason for existence, identifies who it serves, and creates products and services to solve a societal or humanitarian problem. A visionary organization lives in two-worlds: one of purpose and one of profit. This type of organization celebrates it past, embraces its present, and is fueled by its future. It is an organization that is not shackled to the past or its traditions, but is willing to abandon organizational norms to reach its organizational destiny.

Peter and Christine concluded that sustainable, long-standing organizations have a well-developed vision that is ahead of its time, along with a powerful plan for change to remain competitive in a fluid and changing business climate.

Visionary organizations have a ‘roadmap to radical change’. Every successful visionary organization realizes that radical change cannot occur unless an enterprise has a roadmap to successfully reach its destination. To become a visionary organization, there are six elements to create a powerful blueprint for change.

A powerful vision for change must be:

1. Clear: A powerful vision is clear—it creates a mental picture in the mind of your workforce of what it would be like to achieve it. A clearly articulated vision becomes the masterpiece the organization is the painter and the world its canvas. A clear vision uses direct, transparent, straightforward language and meaningful visuals to convey a sense of the desired future state that is easy for the staff to understand and internalize.

2. Compelling: It is important that every organization identifies and articulates a compelling story to ignite change. The story must be able to capture the heart, mind, and soul of its employees. It should create a sense of urgency based upon the changing marketplace and shifting societal winds; not urgency simply based on financial factors or fierce competition. This isn’t simply a matter of showing people poor sales statistics or talking about increased competition. It is a transparent view of a current undesirable state that paints a picture of what would happen if the organization doesn’t change. The story should connect to the soul of the company and its very reason for existence. It should be so compelling that it creates a type of constructive tension in the heart, mind, and soul of its employees to initiate a profound change for growth. The story becomes the catalyst for change. In its essence, a compelling story inspires the whole organization!

3. Concrete: A concrete vision is defined where an organization is skilled in giving form to a formless and shapeless future reality. A concrete vision awakens the five senses of every employee that produces a tangible and substantial reality that is achievable. It is analogous to being a potter actively shaping the clay, molding it, and transforming it into something tangible that the organization can understand. In the end, a concrete vision uses descriptive, present-tense language and visuals to convey a believable future and desired end state of the organization.

4. Communicated: A well-developed vision may begin in the mind of the organizational leader as an abstract idea but turns into a powerfully communicated vision throughout the company so that everyone understands and can articulate where they are going. To effectively communicate a vision requires an established communication infrastructure that has verbal, written, visual, behavioral, and system components that convey and manage the barriers and progress of the vision. Leadership must regularly communicate and reinforce the vision so that momentum is sustained while undergoing this radical organizational change. Visionary organizations don’t simply see the vision; they become the vision

5. Consented: Every vision articulated must have the ability to mobilize the workforce to accept the idea of the leader. Consensus is in summary taking the idea of the one and making it the idea of the many. It is the ability to use persuasive language to create a vision that is inclusive, open, honest, transparent, and mobilizes the workforce to accept the needed organizational changes to remain relevant in today’s business landscape. Consensus creates a shared responsibility, beginning with the leader, but embraced by all levels of the company. The most powerful visions happen when an entire group or organization is mobilized, unified, linked, and of one mind to ensure that the enterprise reaches its goals.

6. Committed: For a vision to become a reality, people throughout the organization must be willing to voluntarily invest their time, talent, and resources. Leadership must not only cast the vision, carry the vision, and support the vision, but the staff must catch the vision to propel the organization forward in a very profound way.

Whatever the business age of your enterprise, organizations must be more than economically sensitive to the changing business landscape. Companies must be consciously aware of the ripple effects that vision creates. When businesses begin the transformation process, they must honestly appraise their current and present state. Does the current state of the organization align with its future goals? Enterprises must understand the reasoning for why it’s necessary to undertake radical change that is more than prioritizing organizational structures, process, products, and profit, but must include and clearly state the imperative of people and communities as being at the center of any visionary activities.

Throughout history, the catalyst for change has always begun with individuals who foresaw the benefit of developing a visionary organization. The development of a visionary organization resulted in inspired employees, new product innovation, higher revenue margins, increased sales, profit increase, greater market competitiveness, stronger organizational culture, and strong organizational outcomes.

Eliakim Thorpe is a sought-after speaker, consultant, thought-leader and entrepreneur, author, and a leading authority on organizational transformation. He is the creator of the T.H.R.I.V.I.N.G. Organization: A New Philosophy to Transform Organizations, which is both a philosophy and a systematic process to help businesses create frameworks to become transformational—internally and externally. As an IT professional, Eliakim has worked with and consulted for Fortune 10 to Fortune 500 companies such as IBM, Whirlpool, and GM