Are You a “Too-Generous” Manager?

Are You a “Too-Generous” Manager?

As a leader, you need to be there for your team. It’s one of your primary responsibilities.

That’s one of my mantras that kept me going, even through the roughest of times in my corporate position. But, is there a possibility that you could be too generous of a manager? I mean, is that a real thing? Yes, it is! There are times when your generosity might be going beyond what’s going to work and be the right choice for you, for the employee, and even for the organization. When I accepted my promotion going into 2013, that was leading to my burnout.

During that year of taking on so much just within my roles and responsibilities, I was definitely too generous at times with my team. I never said no when they asked me for help, I never thought of other options or solutions. If they came to me, I took it on. And it did not benefit me, although it may have benefited them on the surface level. But that extreme, too much generosity definitely led to part of my burnout.

I was not supporting my own well-being and I wasn’t helping to really meet the organization’s goals, because it was pulling me possibly away from doing an effective, kick-ass job at what they asked me to focus on. On the flip side, that extreme generosity didn’t necessarily support my team members in the way that it would help them grow and develop. Saying yes all of the time to just taking on things from your team doesn’t afford them the opportunity to rise to the level; for them to seek additional answers, for them to tap into their other resources, and really grow into themselves, into their own roles.

So as we think about, is it possible to be too generous? The answer is yes! Think about those times when you are being asked to do something or you are starting to volunteer, evaluate whether or not it’s going to be right for you. What might it be pulling you away from that you ultimately need to be prioritizing and focusing on, and how might it be impeding that person from their own development and growth? You know, I love to share stories about being a parent, and this is one of the things that I evaluated as my kids were growing up.

I would often say, and still to this day, if someone were to ask me, what’s your biggest responsibility as a parent? Outside of the obvious of keeping my kids safe, I always say, my biggest responsibility is to raise my kids to be independent adults. That is really what my role as a leader, as a mom, is for my kids. So that I’m empowering them. Yes, am I there, am I generous? Am I there to support them when they need me? Am I guiding and coaching them? Absolutely!

But I’m not jumping in to rescue them and do things for them. Otherwise, they’re going to be here relying on me for the rest of their life, which doesn’t make them a successful human being in their own life. Think about it that same way – you as a leader. Start to create some of those boundaries that are going to support you to be successful in your role, for your employee to be successful and grow in their role and beyond, and to meet your organization’s needs. There is such a thing as being too generous, so let’s watch where we’re at as leaders!

Why Do I Need to Speak?

Why Do I Need to Speak?

You may not give this topic a lot of thought, but I think about it all the time, and I’m going to invite you to take a moment to think about it with me. And it’s the topic of presentations, like giving a presentation. Now, most people have a fear of public speaking, they tell me, “Colleen, I don’t want to be a speaker, I don’t want to go on stages in front of these big audiences.”

I’m not talking about that. Although if you’re interested in that, great, but the reality is that you are a presenter all of the time. Whether that’s presenting information in a conversation in your household or presenting information in your day-to-day job. In fact, I sat in on two separate booster clubs for high school sports, two separate teams, to their meetings to kick off the season.

One of the presentations went really well, the other one not so well. Which booster club do you believe is more successful?

Absolutely, the one that delivered a better presentation! Look, every time you deliver information, you present something, you have a goal on the other side. For the booster club, their goal is to raise as much money as possible to help fund whatever it is they want the sports and the athletes to participate in for the year – whether it’s uniforms, additional buses, or fun activities.

So when they’re presenting at this parent meeting, that’s their goal on the other side, to get as many parents to pay their voluntary team fees, donate money, and participate in fundraisers. And the booster club that had the better presentation was more successful at that. So what are you doing in your role?

Again, whether that’s personal or professional, where do you have to deliver information? It might be a formal presentation, where you’re delivering to senior level executives and you might be thinking, oh, I’m just here to deliver results. No, you have some sort of goal on the other side, whether it’s a personal goal to maybe showcase some of your capabilities, or maybe it’s a company-wide goal, to get these senior executives to say yes to the next step in your project and fund it.

If you’re a leader, when you’re delivering information to your team, you have a goal. It might be that you’ve got to get them to be a little bit more engaged and productive to meet the organization’s quarterly quota. But every time you present, there is a goal on the other side.

So isn’t it worth it to uplevel your presentation skills, even if you don’t believe you’re going to be out there as a public speaker? 

It’s Always Been This Way

It’s Always Been This Way

In my longest-running sales role, I worked for a company that had the world’s largest database of consumer purchase history. So I had access, at my fingertips, to billions of pieces of data. As I was preparing presentations that I would deliver to my client, it was my responsibility to distill all of that data, all of those insights, and determine what I would put into this presentation.

Well, now in my role as I’m consulting and working with organizations, I work with scientists a lot – and scientists have access to probably just as much data and information that I did. And these scientists are responsible for presenting data, whether that’s internally or externally, but they present this information, these metrics, this science, to their audience. And we’ve been finding that there is this kind of resistance, if you will, to how the data, the insights, are shared with the audience.

In one particular situation, I found that the group was really resistant to the training and the coaching that I was offering on how or in what way to distill the data, and then how would that be shared out. And they were resistant simply because it’s not the way it’s always been done. They had a particular way that, throughout the organization, data had been shared. But what was interesting is there didn’t seem to be any hard and faster rules; there wasn’t the CEO or President coming down and saying, “This IS the way it has to be done.”

It was just habit.

Every single scientist, they had fallen into the same exact kind of template or form that their predecessors had, even though it was not working. So take a look at how you’re presenting information, or quite frankly, going about anything in your day-to-day job. Is there a better way to do it, that maybe you believe is the way it’s supposed to be done, but there’s really no rule to it?

Challenge yourself. Get out there and find creative, unique new ways that could essentially make you better at what you do, even though it may not be traditionally how it’s always been done!

Easy vs. Effective Communication

Easy vs. Effective Communication

“Colleen, I know what you’re saying is true, but it’s just so much easier to not do that.”

This is what a C-suite executive was saying to me as I was there on-site with him and his leadership team. I was there to train and coach on communication, and he simply shared as I was going through the strategies and the coaching and he said, “Yeah, I get that, but it’s just so much easier for me in that moment when I’m having that dialogue, that communication with a direct report or another employee in the organization, it’s just easier to say what’s top of mind. It’s easier to just tell them what I’m thinking, what I’m feeling.”

And I looked at him and said, “Well, how’s that working out for you?” Not how he wanted to. So yes, while I recognize it’s easier in the moment to say and blurt out in a reactionary way what we’re thinking or what we’re feeling, it is not easier on the other side of it. I was sharing a story on a recent video here about one of the account executives that I managed years ago in another lifetime, and how she was banging away at her keyboard, typing this angry email in response to an angry email from a client.

Through coaching, I was trying to get her to change this, because in the moment it was easier for her to get those emotions out. But if she had sent that email, all of the other crap we would’ve had to deal with, all of the things we would’ve had to make correct on the other end with this client would’ve been much harder, much more difficult, versus taking that moment. And on that particular video, somebody commented and said, yeah, but how do you stay kind of calm, cool, and collected, right?

If you’re sitting there in some sort of communication where you have this reaction, whether it is anger, frustration, sadness, anxiety, fear, how do you manage that? And the one simple tool or strategy to give you is that we’ve got to think about what the goal is on the other side.

What is the ultimate goal?

And if your reaction is not going to get you to that goal, then you need to rethink – instead of having the reaction – what that intentional response is going to be. So, I offer for you that as you may be struggling or wanting to say, “Well, this is how I am. I am going to tell you how I feel,” I’m just going to ask, how’s that working out for you? Because while it may be easy in the moment, it is certainly not easy on the other side. Comment below, I’d love to hear from you. I’m here to unlock your x factor and to elevate your communication and your impact!

Leaders Don’t Ask Leading Questions

Leaders Don’t Ask Leading Questions

There’s a podcast that I love listening to, it’s called SmartLess. You may have heard of it, and if not, by all means go check it out! Just be warned, it has adult content in it. But it’s hosted by three celebrities: Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayes; and I love the format. So one of the celebrity hosts is in charge of getting the guest for that week, the other two have no idea who the guest is going to be – until they show up on the video, in the live interview.

And true to podcast interview form, they’re asking questions throughout. Well, one of the celebrity hosts has a particular way of asking questions – and he’ll remain nameless, but if you listen to it, I’m sure you’ll figure it out pretty quickly. He asks really insightful, amazing questions that I can’t wait to hear the guest’s response to. But this host, after he asks the question, he provides examples. Now, these examples are not necessarily how we might think of a traditional leading question, right?

You may have found yourself in a similar situation, where someone’s asked you a question and they want you to answer in a particular way. I had a boss who used to do this. He would ask the question and then he would keep answering or giving these examples or asking in a way that was just trying to get me to answer how he wanted to hear the answer.

This is not what this host is doing, this is not what I’m talking about. Instead, this host, as they’re asking this question, I believe has already thought of how they themselves would answer the question based upon their own experiences, their own thoughts, their own feelings. No ill intent by any means, but then after he asks the question, he says like, is it this, or maybe it’s this? All based on the interviewer, the question asker’s experience.

What’s the risk here?

We see this happen in organizations, in households, everywhere when we’re in communication. But especially I see it with leaders when they’re speaking to their direct reports, where they know they need to ask questions, but they insert examples after they’ve asked the questions, and those examples are primarily based on their own experiences. The risk here is that the person being asked the question, in this case, a direct report, is now thinking about these examples.

Maybe they just say, “Well my manager said this and so I’m going to answer this way,” or those examples kind of shut off their own thoughts around why this happened. So as we think about asking those questions, be aware. Be aware of that intent, where even though the intent is good, you may be unintentionally leading someone down a path as you provide your own examples after the fact!