Helping leaders emerge


Food for Thought ….

“You make a living by what you get, you make a life by what you give.” 
– (Falsely) attributed to Winston Churchill

Do You Act Like A Leader? Why “Thank You” Is Not A Four Letter Word

The ROI on simply saying “thank you” goes a long way – probably much
farther than you think.” 

  – Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School

In our chaotic, busy lives, many of us overlook the importance of saying thank you and expressing gratitude.

But there are good reasons to say thank you:

  • Gratitude is an important leadership quality
  • Shows you appreciate and respect the other person
  • Generates positive feelings
  • Sets you up to receive the best from the other person
  • Expressing gratitude (or not) says something about who you are
  • A meaningful way to differentiate yourself among others
  • Last, but not least, it’s the right thing to do

An executive client recently shared with me that she typically can tell the level of the individual she is working with by whether or not they express gratitude. That when she emails useful information to her senior level clients (in positions of leadership), she typically receives a thank you reply email with a “t.u.” or ☺. She observed that most of her junior clients do not acknowledge emails or say thank you.

Saying thank you takes so little effort: a phone call, a thank you note – and yes, even an email or a text …what kind of impression do you want to leave?

For more information and research read The Power of ‘Thanks’ by Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School

When it Comes to Feedback, Why Tough Love Doesn’t Necessarily Work

“Sometimes you’re not even sure which of your stories were failures. There are things I’ve written that I thought were complete catastrophes when I finished with them that have gone on to generate some of my most positive feedback.” 
     – Len Wein, Co-creator of DC Comics’ Swamp Thing and Marvel Comics’ Wolverine

I recently facilitated a close out coaching engagement with an executive client, her supervisor, and human resource partner. What impressed me was that my client demonstrated strong leadership presence during a tough situation by remaining grounded and calm as she received a storm of negative feedback from her supervisor.

Unfortunately, with the exception of one other time, this meeting was the only time she received clear feedback, which mostly highlighted what she wasn’t doing well. Which was surprising, given how well intended her supervisors were, how dedicated my client was to her leadership development/coaching, and how much progress she made throughout the engagement.

While my client was committed to doing what was best for the organization (often putting in long days to meet deadlines) and developing her leadership skills, she did not receive the necessary feedback along the way to achieve a successful outcome. On several occasions throughout the engagement we asked for more clarity and feedback, but unfortunately, were not successful. She often felt demotivated and burnt-out. Not a great ROI.

As clients try out new skills and behaviors, they need consistent feedback about what they are doing well and where they need support. Think of it as “a reality check” because everything they’re trying out is new and does not yet feel comfortable.

There’s a philosophy that feedback, on the aggregate, should be delivered consistently and with a 4 positive to 1 constructive ratio. This helps the brain process what needs to be done and keeps individuals open to learning, more motivated, able to perform better, and ultimately achieve better results for the company.

Here’s an interesting article that may provide more insight: You’re Awesome! Firms Scrap Negative Feedback

How to Deal with Difficult People: Put Your Oxygen Mask on First!

“If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow in your heart …”
– Pema Chödrön

Accept the difficult (okay annoying!) person and situation. Recognize you have no control over the other person’s behavior. The only thing you can do is aim to “Show Up” with “Leadership Presence” – that is remain grounded and calm.

Have compassion for and be kind to yourself – first. Acknowledge that it’s tough and sometimes draining to deal with them.

When you’re ready, have compassion for the other person and imagine how they must feel and suffer if they act that way. Keep in mind they must live with themselves 24 hours a day (and you only part of the day).

Have compassion for other people who have to deal with this person or are experiencing other similar situations – you know how it feels!

Let go of having others confirm you’re okay and let it come from within. You cannot control the behavior of others. You can only protect yourself by setting boundaries, being kind to yourself, letting go of what you can’t control, and having a sense of humor.

“If a group member wants to fight with you … it is far better to step back than to overstep yourself… Your strength is good intelligence … advance only when you encounter no resistance. If you make a point, do not cling to it. If you win, be gracious.”
                                                        – The Tao of Leadership by John Heider