Posts tagged Business
7 Proven Ingredients for Building Resilience
 
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Resilience - the ability to adapt and bounce back.

 

Today’s business world is constantly changing, more so than ever before. From markets to work environments, leaders now need to plan for both the expected and the unexpected. Resilience is playing an increasingly important role in a company’s ability to adapt to change and overcome the challenges associated with it.

 

We all know that no business, individual or team is perfect. There will always be challenges, tension and failure, no matter what role or business you’re in. In order to not only survive but to thrive you need to be resilient.

 

Building resilience is easy for situations where we have control, but it is far more challenging in situations where we are not in control.

 

Here are seven proven ingredients for building resilience:

 

Connectedness 

Teams with strong relationships underpinned with trust and understanding always outperform those without. This is particularly true for teams facing obstacles.

 

Engagement

Connectedness leads to greater employee engagement. Engaged employees are more likely to bounce back from setbacks because they’re more invested and want to see your company succeed. They are also more likely to tackle challenges.

 

Review

Resilience is more than simply moving on. It involves reflection and review. Resilient teams ask questions such as ‘What worked and what didn’t work?, How can we do better next time?, What have we learned?’.

 

Future Focus

Maintaining a positive outlook towards the future is a crucial component of resilience. While learning from the past is important, dwelling on it is not. A leader’s mood has a huge impact on the mood of the team. It is easy to be positive and confident when things are going well. However, optimism has a greater impact in the face of problems. A great leader should maintain their optimism despite how they may be feeling.

 

Recognition & Growth

The majority of employees feel that their importance to an organisation is the main source of their commitment to a company. Recognising employees for their accomplishments is a great way to foster a culture of recognition, growth and resilience.

 

Vulnerability 

Consistently demonstrating personal control and resolve is a well known leadership trait, however it is vulnerability that is most powerful in building team resilience. When a leader role models vulnerability and resolve in the face of vulnerability, they make it ok for their team to do the same and helps boost team resilience.

 

Identify Difficult People 

Within each team in various situations there may be employees who are more difficult or who are bringing down the overall morale among team members. The negativity of even just one employee can have an impact on the overall resilience of a team. Good leadership and a healthy company culture means identifying these people early on and intervening. Addressing the underlying issues that individual team members are experiencing can boost their morale and in turn the resilience of the team.

 

 

Taking the steps to build resilience will put your team in a strong position when faced with inevitable challenges. Building resilience is something that all organisations need to plan for before the difficult times hit. Be ready so your people and organisation will reap the rewards.


 
Active Listening for Leaders

Active Listening: an Essential Leadership Skill

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“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Stephen Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Being a great leader is not just about what you say and do, it involves listening to the voices of others too. Active listening is an essential leadership skill and core component of emotional intelligence. How many times have employees within organisations said that they just want their voices to be heard? People want leaders who listen to them, and doing so is a very effective way to inspire and motivate them.


What does it take to be a good listener?

Active listening goes above and beyond simply being quiet and paying attention. It involves body language, participation and exploring the conversation. There are many components that contribute to this skill, here are a few major ones:


6 Components of Active Listening

1. Undivided Attention: Pay attention to what the other person is saying and avoid being distracted by your own thoughts and thinking of what you are going to say next. Ensure your phone is away so that you’re able to give the person your undivided attention. If you’re not able to, it may be able to reschedule for another time that you can. Giving someone your undivided attention demonstrates respect.


2. Body Language: Show that you are listening through your body language. This can be done through eye contact, nodding your head, facial expressions, short statements such as ‘yes’ and ‘mhmmmm’ and keeping your body turned in the same direction as the person you are listening to.


3. Withhold Judgement: Leaders need to be receptive to new ideas, perspectives and ways of doing things. Maintain an open mind while listening and avoid jumping to conclusions. While you may have an opinion, active listening involves allowing the other person to express theirs without interjections or criticism. Allow the person to have time to think and speak before responding or contributing your perspective.


4. Seek Clarity: If you are not sure or do not understand what the person is getting at don’t be afraid to ask questions. Open-ended questions are great tools for learning more about the person and expanding the conversation.


5. Restate What You Hear: Restating the underlying themes you hear in a conversation shows the other person that you understand what they are saying and are truly listening. It also allows them to realise if their point is not coming across clearly and rectify it in the event that what you have restated does not align with what they are trying to communicate.


6. Share: Active listening begins with understanding, and ends with being understood. As the conversation progresses feel free to deepen it by contributing your own perspective, experiences and ideas. This will build a rapport and positive relationship.


The Impact of Active Listening

Listening builds trust, creates transparency and fosters loyalty. Active listening also give leaders insight and makes them more mindful of the stress and tension points of those they lead. It encourages stronger communication between leaders and team members and drives engagement. It can also act as an indispensable soft skill during the conflict resolution process.

By taking the time to master this skill leaders can go from simply being leaders to being influential leaders within their respective organisations. Going the extra mile and encouraging employees to learn active listening skills or providing them with training can truly transform an organisation and team culture.

The Importance of Showing Vulnerability as a Leader
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“Vulnerability is the best measure of courage” ~ Brené Brown

At a glance, vulnerability is seen as a weakness, particularly in business. When it comes to leadership, vulnerability is often treated as a liability for leaders. Leaders feel a constant pressure to perform at a higher level than others. After all, it is leaders who are expected to have a vision, take the actions necessary to bring it to fruition and answer the tough questions along the path.

In reality, this view of vulnerability prevents leaders from being effective. When we hear the stories of successful people we are frequently inspired by the circumstances and obstacles they were able to overcome along their path. Although we go to great lengths to hide our own vulnerability, it is most often the vulnerable leaders who share their weaknesses and struggles that we find the most authentic, inspiring and easy to connect with.

Not only does vulnerability allow us to be our authentic selves, it is a powerful tool that we can use to empower others. So how does one go about utilising their vulnerability as a leader? Here are some important points:

What is Vulnerability in Leadership?

Contrary to popular belief, being vulnerable does not mean you have to share your deepest, most personal secrets and let it all hang out. It means letting your guard down, putting pretenses aside and being yourself.

Brene Brown, the best-selling author of books including The Power of Vulnerability and Daring Greatly, has done extensive research on vulnerability. Brene argues that vulnerability is ‘engaging in life, being all in, dedicating yourself to something.’  

A leader who expresses vulnerability is someone who does not feel compelled to be the first to answer or come up with an idea. Being vulnerable as a leader involves a change in mindset that enables you to see through the eyes of the people you lead. By doing so, you invite them to become the drivers of the conversation. The result is that people become more involved and invested.


How to be Vulnerable as a Leader

Although we are all vulnerable at the core, expressing this outwardly in a meaningful way is not easy nor is it necessarily comfortable. Here are a few ways to open up communication and vulnerability in your leadership practices:

Learn the Value Vulnerability- Being vulnerable doesn’t make you weak, it allows you to show people your authentic self.

Recognise Your Own Vulnerability- Confronting your own self-doubt is a great starting point for getting in touch with your own vulnerability. No one is free of worry or reservation at all times. When you address your own self-doubts they lose their power over you, and in doing so help you better empower others.

Practice Vulnerability- Even if you see the value in vulnerability it does not automatically translate in being able to convey that vulnerability freely. Most of us need to practice being vulnerable because we’re used to doing the opposite. Work on your vulnerability by being an active listener and not worrying about saying the right thing. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t have all the answers or be wrong. Sometimes the boldest thing a leader can do is listen and truly hear other people’s ideas and answers.

Using Vulnerability as a Superpower

Emotionally intelligent leaders recognise vulnerability as a powerful tool. Smart leaders who are in touch with their vulnerability and express it appropriately at the right times to the right people will experience greater support from their followers in addition to empowering and inspiring them.

Here are some powerful benefits vulnerable leaders experience:

Meaningful Connections- By embracing moments of vulnerability leaders can form more genuine connections.  Even though it may feel uncomfortable it portrays the leader as a real person rather than a robot, someone relatable.

Greater Innovation- Although leaders do have a an important role to play by absorbing fear and uncertainty, courageously expressing vulnerability allows them to lead with authenticity. This fosters a growth-mindset culture in organizations by creating a sense of psychological safety, allowing employees to move beyond their comfort zone and take risks. By meeting uncertainty with openness and a willingness to learn vulnerable leaders and their teams set themselves up for greater innovation.

Accepting Help- Leaders often find it challenging to delegate a portion of their work to others. This may involve admitting that they have too much on their plate or that someone else may be better suited to the task at hand. By letting go and allowing someone else to take on a portion of the responsibility leaders demonstrate trust in their team and are sharing their vision. It also allows them to focus on their strengths and leverage the contributions of others rather than struggling alone with their weaknesses.

Decreased Stress: Expressing vulnerability can kick the elephant out of the room and allow people to talk freely about topics that may otherwise have been uncomfortably avoided. The result is increased openness and decreased tension in work environments (and for leaders themselves).

Greater Self-Awareness: When leaders identify their vulnerabilities and express them appropriately, leaders can become more self-aware and less insulated.

Identifying Issues Faster: By creating a more open, communicative work environment through their own vulnerability leaders are then able to discover problems faster. People are more likely to bring issues forward and admit to mistakes if they are less afraid of doing so.  Vulnerability stimulates collaboration, learning and growth rather than fear, cover up and blame.



Although it may seem paradoxical, showing vulnerability is actually showing strength. Exhibiting such authenticity and speaking truthfully about vulnerabilities is the essence of leading with a growth mindset. Vulnerability is indeed a superpower and leaders should take the time to learn how and when to use it to empower those they lead.



How To Turn a Confrontation Into a Conversation
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Confrontation is typically viewed in a negative light. Many of us associate confrontations with the dramatised versions we see on TV and social media that are overflowing with insults and threats. For most of us, conflict may take days - even years - to truly surface and while it may not be as dramatic it can be deeply uncomfortable.

Conflict is a part of life and depending on how you approach it, conflict can also serve as an opportunity to open up dialogue. The majority of people do not particularly like conflict and many of us go out of our way to avoid it. Avoiding conflict can be even more detrimental than having a confrontation as it denies us the opportunity to express ourselves and may deny others the opportunity to alter their behaviour. It is especially important for leaders to become adept at conflict resolution.

Ideally conversations will happen before they manifest as confrontations. However, more often than not we will find ourselves experiencing conflict with someone. Even if this is the case the confrontation can still be redirected into conversation.

Why conversation over confrontation? When in a fight people tend to take on a ‘win/lose’ mentality. When people are focused on winning they are less likely to be receptive to feedback, open to resolution or trying to come to an agreement. This is why it is crucial to transform a confrontation into a conversation to achieve the best outcome possible for both parties.

Here are 5 steps for turning confrontation into conversation:

 

1. Increase Your Internal Awareness

If you are not actively engaged in a face to face conflict you have the opportunity to increase your own awareness on the issue before confronting someone or being confronted. Doing so will allow you to better express yourself and empathise with the other person. Even in the time following a confrontation there is the opportunity to increase your internal awareness on the issues and readdress them.

 

2. Acknowledgement

When you do find yourself in a face to face conflict, begin by acknowledging the frustration the other person is expressing. This does not mean you have to agree with them. You can disagree with them but still show empathy. Even if they are asking for something that you cannot deliver you can acknowledge them and move them towards discussing alternatives. Sometimes people just need to be heard and acknowledged.  

 

3. Ask Questions

Questions are a great way to explore the underlying issues causing a conflict and move away from confrontation and towards conversation. Begin by asking an open-ended question. Ensure you are asking with sincerity rather than from your own place of attack/defend. This will make the other person stop and think and can help them move out of an aggressive, defensive, confrontational state. By asking with genuine interest in the other person and their response you are much more likely to reach a mutually beneficial resolution.

 

4. Pay Attention to Your Body Language

More than 90 percent of communication is nonverbal. Pay attention to your tone of voice and ensure that your body language looks receptive rather than defensive. Having your words directed at de-escalating the conflict is not enough - your body language has to match.

 

5. Provide Feedback

If you have had a confrontation with someone and succeeded in identifying issues to be worked on be sure to acknowledge them positively when they change their behaviour. If the issue persists be sure to acknowledge it in a timely manner. The phase following a confrontation can be quite revealing. For example, if the person is an employee and they fail to change their behaviour or address the issue at hand it may become apparent that they are not a fit for your organisation.

 

Leaders who embrace these steps become very adept at dealing with confrontation and winning respect in the process. Make no mistake, leaders who are great at conflict-resolution dislike confronting people as much as anyone else but have learned to pick and choose their battles, often anticipating conflicts before they even materialise. For example, a leader who has issues with one of their employee’s performance may wisely opt to deal with these issues as they arise rather than waiting for the problem to spread.

The next time you are in a situation where there is the potential for conflict try to open up the dialogue rather than avoid discussion. This will likely lead to much better results and prevent confrontations down the line.

 

It's Lonely At The Top

The expression ‘It’s lonely at the top’ rings true for today's CEOs and senior executives. The Centre for Leadership Development and Research (CLDR) at Stanford conducted a study and found that 100 percent of CEOs expressed that they appreciate receiving leadership advice and executive coaching and value when they take the time to seek the support that they need.

Benefits of Executive Coaching

A study conducted by the American Management Association found that companies who have implemented coaching as a part of their strategy report better market performance. Another study by PwC and the Association Resource Centre found that the average ROI for companies that invest in coaching is seven times that of the initial investment. One quarter of the companies surveyed reported an ROI of 10 to 49 times the initial investment.

While there is little doubt that executive coaching is beneficial, the specific reasons why vary and are unique to each individual and organisation. Benefits of coaching include:

  • A heightened sense of self awareness and awareness of others
  • Increased emotional intelligence and ability to deal with their own emotions and the emotions of others in the workplace, a skill that is extremely useful for conflict resolution
  • Learning to bring their best to the job and looking at stressors as welcome challenge
  • An enhanced range of healthy coping strategies
  • The development of goal setting as a means to achieving peak performance
  • The development of character strengths and a growth mindset when dealing with stressful situations

Too Much Responsibility, Too Little Support

Company CEOs and founders who do not engage a confidential sounding board are more likely to internalise stress, which might manifest as anxiety in the short term and health problems, depression and addictive behaviours in the long-term. While the degree to which senior executives thrive and survive under this strain depends largely upon their individual characteristics and resilience, executives who receive coaching learn strategies to bolster resilience and reduce anxiety and stress. They fare better than those who do not.

Healthy Leaders Mean Healthy Companies

Needless to say, it is paramount that CEO’s and senior executives make optimal decisions for their teams and companies. The benefits of independent, objective advice and strategies are enormous. Even the best leaders have blind spots and can benefit from an outside perspective. It is also common for employees to withhold feedback to top level executives. The result is that CEOs do not actually get the level of peer feedback and support that they need. This is where a coach can prove to be invaluable.

Executives Want To Be Coached

According to the study conducted by Stanford and The Miles Group, 78 percent of CEOs who have received executive coaching indicated that it was their idea to do so and 100 percent of CEOs were receptive to making changes based on the coaching feedback received. Similarly, 80 percent of directors expressed that their company CEO is receptive to coaching.

There are many reasons that coaching is appealing to CEOs. One is that it is external and confidential. Founding a company may mean you have ideas but not all the answers. It is the best of leaders who recognise that there is always room for growth. As leaders, people often want to maintain a strong image in order to effectively lead their teams, however, behind the scenes they may question themselves and their decisions. Top executives recognise this and seek coaching to become the best that they can be.

Coaching Increases Resilience

Executive coaches and consultants can help CEOs and senior level executives bolster resilience and connect with a deeper sense of purpose. Resilient individuals tend to view problems as challenges rather than crises. They also exhibit effective coping strategies for dealing with workplace issues. One of the main things that resilient senior executives have is an overarching sense of purpose that guides their actions. Those who operate from a place of deeper meaning, are more satisfied, engaged and effective.

One study demonstrated that individuals who operate out of a greater guiding purpose experienced significantly better physical health over a 10 year period than those who reported little sense of purpose and direction. Business leaders with a strong sense of purpose are more likely to form deeper connections with others and think of how they can best contribute to their stakeholders and society at large. They are more likely to have a consistent focus on leaving a legacy and experience less inner conflict.

Common Coaching Areas

While the coaching needs of each executive vary depending on company demands and their own unique characteristics there are some areas that are far more popular than others. The top concern for CEOs is how to effectively handle conflict. In the Stanford study 43 percent of CEOs marked ‘conflict management skills’ as their highest priority. This comes as no surprise as most of the simpler decisions in a company are made at lower levels of management and mostly difficult, conflicted ones make it to the CEO level.

When boards commence executive coaching their priority is often improving CEO’s mentoring skills in order to better develop their talent. By investing more time and resources into their CEO’s leadership skills they hope that CEOs will be able to better develop and retain talented team members.

Other common areas of focus for coaching CEOs include delegation and team building. Senior executives have often worked their way up the ranks due to technical brilliance and hard skills. However, it is the soft skills of motivating and engaging others that is critical for business leaders, to not only be able to manage their employees effectively but to also inspire them.

The top does not need to be lonely for the CEOs and executives of the future. There has been a change in the way executive coaching and consulting is viewed, making it less remedial and more like top athletes having trainers. Top executives have coaches to offer perspective and facilitate strategies to be the best leaders they can be.