Mark Shead over at the Leadership501
blog did an interview Q&A with me and two other leadership coaches this week. You can link here
to the full piece. Excerpts from my part are included below:What is the most common mistake you see made by leaders?
What is the most important tip you can give for developing leadership skills?
BZ: Just one?! How about three?!
With respect to ‘delegation and maximizing their leadership impact’ – Doing work that they’re capable of doing, rather than working on what only they are capable of doing. Too many leaders do their staff’s work instead of their own and then are left wondering why there are so many unanticipated problems and last-minute deadlines that keep cropping up. Job One of a leader is to keep a constant watch on the horizon, not to keep busy.
With respect to ‘consensus-building and collaboration’ – Thinking that the real work happens during meetings, rather than before, and to a much lesser degree, after, them. To paraphrase Walt Disney, if you can get them to agree before they disagree, they’ll never disagree.
With respect to ‘doing a good job’ – Trying to avoid risk-taking, rather than learning to how anticipate and mitigate the risks inherent in forwarding any new idea. As a leader, it’s not about playing it safe, it’s about making a difference.
Which leader has had the biggest personal influence on your life?
BZ: Time is the ultimate scare resource for an executive, so the ability to eliminate procrastination is an essential competency. Yet, many executives are still uncomfortable with talking to direct reports about performance issues. So they procrastinate (under the guise of being too busy to deal with that right now, of course) and as a direct result, time passes, problems fester, and things slide downhill.
The most important tip I can give for developing leadership skills, then, is to learn how to be ready, willing, and able, to have those difficult conversations, when needed. That’s one of the reasons why I created an e-book called, "Employee Performance Discussions" which provides respectful, but powerful and compelling, language and phrasings to help make those difficult conversations imminently less so.
Who can benefit from leadership coaching?
BZ: For me, I think it was John Madden back when he was head coach of the Oakland Raiders, from 1968 to 1978. I really respect how he took all the misfits from the league – galoots who had just couldn't play nice with anyone – gave them a home, insisted they be themselves, and with owner Al Davis, challenged them to Just Win, Baby!
Together, they won 17 straight games (across two seasons), won themselves a Super Bowl, never had a losing season, got Madden voted AFL Coach of the Year, gave him the best winning percentage of any coach in NFL history with over 100 wins, and a permanent seat in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
My Lessons Learned from it all?
- Be curious about people rather than being in judgment of them
- Don’t be afraid of creativity and counter-intuitive thinking
- People love, but also need, to do Important Work – so let them
- Respecting someone for who they already are, builds regard, rapport, and the ability to create some incredible magic.
BZ: The type of people who can benefit the most from leadership coaching are the ones who, notwithstanding the fruits of their labors, know they can still do better, want to do better still, and are willing to do the necessary legwork to make it so. They tend to be smart, capable, informed, creative, and caring. But whether they’re an up-and-coming star, a proverbial executive’s executive, or someone in between, they know that what brought them success in the past will likely be insufficient in sustaining their success in the future. So they've made it a personal and professional priority to continue to learn and grow and develop and stretch and question and consider and understand as much as they can. Regardless of circumstances or contexts, they want to be at their Absolute Best as often, and as consistently, as possible. Why? Because it’s at that level that the magic happens most regularly.
Labels: Leadership Development