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  • You wouldn’t let your parents do it. Why do you do it?

    Guest Post By: Kitty Barrow

     

    Karen is a successful sales manager with a problem. Her leaders never seem to step up in their leadership roles. She wants to trust that they are doing their job but then when their teams aren’t performing, she finds herself needing to step in and work with her leader’s sales team members.

    What? Hold on a minute? How do you think this story ends?

    Well, it wasn’t ending well and it was causing endless frustration for Karen as well as wasting hours and hours of her time.

    Unfortunately, Karen is only one of many clients who face this issue and does not understand why I suggest that she stop leading over her leaders. But think about it. Any parent will tell you that they don’t appreciate their own parents stepping in and trying to parent the grandkids. There isn’t a parent I know who won’t quickly stand up and matter-of-factly ask their parents to ‘butt out’. ‘These are my kids and I will parent them how I see fit!’

    parents grandparents

    Can you relate? Or maybe you are a leader of a team and your immediate leader continues to step over you and lead your team. How does that make you feel?

    There are 3 main issues with this.

    First, when you lead over your leaders, it demoralizes them on the inside. By leading over them, you are telling them that you don’t think that they can do their job. When people don’t think that you believe in them, then they aren’t going to try as hard. Why should they, after all, won’t you be stepping in and doing the heavy lifting for them.

    The second issue is that you are sending a signal to the people of your leader that your leader isn’t really skilled enough to be your leader and then all respect flies out the window. The leadership power is washed away leaving your leader with a title but no one who really respects them. After all, if they aren’t getting their way, all they need to do is call you, right? You like how important you feel when you are able to step in and save the day, but instead of really helping, you are now hurting all 3 of you.

    I had one client who was learning how to be a better leader and went to apologize to one of their leaders for what they have been doing. The leader accepted their apology and explained that every time the leader went over his head to work with his team, he felt embarrassed. You can imagine the shock of my coaching client who had previously described that leader as an ‘arrogant know-it-all’. The guy wasn’t that bad but was simply reacting to the situation that my client caused.

    The third issue is that leading over your leaders is that it causes a ‘gossip triangle’. I have seen it become a time-consuming he-said-she-said that can waste hours, if not days, of everyone trying to solve disagreements and hurt feelings. Team members aren’t dumb. They quickly learn how to play the game that kids often learn to play ‘parent-vs-parent’. If the leaders aren’t showing a united front and letting the leaders lead only their direct reports, then they can be pitted against each other on a regular basis which will stagnate growth and cause division within the ranks.

    So what is the solution?

    First, if you find yourself guilty on all counts, then you need to have a private conversation with your leader. Begin with apologizing. Let them know that you didn’t realize what you have been doing and how you were inadvertently neutralizing them as a leader. When you start this conversation with an apology, I’ve never seen it end badly. It usually ends up as it did with my client Bob with the manager who he was leading also being vulnerable and admitting how embarrassed or helpless they have been feeling.

    Second, you make an agreement that all issues with their team members will be immediately directed to the leader and you will partner together, if needed, to solve the issue, but all leadership of that team member will come from the right person in the chain-of-command. This also means that you need to be willing to let go of some control. The leader might make some ‘bad’ decisions as they learn how to really be a leader. It’s okay. It’s their team. You’re going to be there to partner with them so help them avoid making too many bad leadership decisions but it’s going to happen and you need to be okay with it and trust your leader.

    The third thing that you do is meet with the leader on a weekly basis at a scheduled time to discuss their team members and help them to think through how to best resolve any issues. We do this by asking instead of telling. I find that most leaders (including myself) want to just tell people how to do things. This is fine if they are new to the company (or new to leadership) and learning the ropes. For an experienced leader, it is better to ask questions to help your leader think through how to solve the problems on their own. People who are convinced against their will are of the same opinion still. If, however, you ask questions and get them to come to the appropriate conclusions, then they are convincing themselves and internalizing the lessons.

    Tired of always thinking that you are the only one who knows how to do anything? Then that is a sign that you are leading over your leaders and it’s time to take a new approach.

    Try it and please let me know how it goes!

     

    Kitty Barrow is a Senior Partner and Executive Sales and Leadership Coach of Southwestern Consulting. She specializes in creating successful systems that are easily duplicated. Her motto is “Keep Things Simple for Stress-less Selling.” Kitty has trained thousands of sales professionals in companies such as Wells Fargo, MassMutual, New York Life, Xerox Global and Allstate


  • Teamwork

    Guest Post By: Gary Michels

     

    blueangels
    When I think of the ultimate in teamwork, I think of the Blue Angels flight team.  These pilots must be not only perfect but also precise in their daily performances.   They do this not only entertain, but to stay alive.  They raise the bar in a multitude of ways.  Their passion for what they do along with the amount of preparation and dedication to being the best is remarkable.  Regarding teamwork, when it is at its best, amazing standards are being set daily.  What level do you think your team is currently operating?  I am referring to the team you work with, and perhaps your family unit as well? Where do you and your team and need to raise the bar?  What areas do you think need the most improvement?
    Below you will find a few common characteristics seen in teams that work well together and achieve significant successes, both together and as individuals.

    teamwork

    Teams that rock, or are wildly successful, tend to share certain common values.  I find these teams typically have very focused goals along with a passion for succeeding.  You can ask any member of that team what is the focus of their team.  Each member of the team will know the main goal and they will all answer in a similar fashion. These teammates are so committed to their shared goals and success that they will put the success of the team first and be willing to make personal sacrifices in order to help the team.  One person on the team may purposefully take a back seat for a short while and let another teammate succeed.  They realize that a short-term sacrifice of glory and ego, today will help the entire team in the long run.

    When you are a part of a top team, teamwork is not something you only do part time. You live your life by doing what is best for the team.   I like to teach the concept of either/and instead of either/or. Top leaders of top teams must have a team first attitude and mentality.  Also, they must make sure they are performing at their very best.  When you are at your very best, in most cases you are helping the team as well.

    Top teams tend to consist of several leaders, leaders that are confident and skilled enough to walk the talk, not just talk the talk. In all areas both personal and professional you will see top teams whose leaders lead by example and set the pace. They are proactive, rather than reactive and plan on winning no matter what.

    Yet another part of teamwork to be aware of is trust.  Teams that have a great chemistry also have amazing trust for one another.  This comes from amazing communication amongst the team.  Often teammates will carve out  time to communicate when challenges arise.  Typically the type of situations that may threaten the bond and success of their team.  Often, trust is broken when communication is poor.  People who want to grow their teamwork skills must make good communication a priority.

    Teams that succeed are the teams that prepare the most. They often work harder and more diligently than anyone would imagine. Whether its additional hours of work in order to prepare, or tenacious effort during the hours of preparation, strong teams do the work. Ask yourself this question: Does your team put, less, the same, or more work when preparing for success than the average team?  The answer probably lies in your results.  If your team isn’t where you want it to be, it is because you need to work on becoming more prepared.

    Lastly, great teams have great attitudes. Attitude stems from what and how teammates talk to themselves when no one else is around.  They have clear affirmations and the words they said whether to themselves or to their team.  Of course, things happen in life and having a good attitude and good self-talk can help everyone bounce back fast from the challenges one may experience.

    You don’t see winners walking around defeated and down.  It’s because they have mastered the self – talk and attitude skill set.

    What type of team do you want to build? When do you want to start? What are you and your teams biggest growth areas to Turn It Up A Notch in your teamwork abilities?

     

    Gary Michels is a co-founder of Southwestern Consulting. He is a keynote speaker, sales trainer and business consultant and has motivated nearly 1,000,000 people to achieve their highest potential nationwide. Gary spent 19 successful years as a sales representative for a national fund-raising company.