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!

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!

The Power of One Word

The Power of One Word

My son, Ethan, taught me a really valuable lesson when he was little – although he doesn’t know it. But this valuable lesson wasn’t just a lesson for me as a parent, it’s a lesson I took into my leadership communication. When Ethan was little, I’d look over and see him, he might be struggling with a toy or as he was learning to read, write, or even color, I’d see him struggling. And as his mom, I wanted to help him.

I wanted to let him know I’m there to do whatever he needs. I didn’t want him to feel alone, so I would just let him know, “Hey, Ethan, let me know if you need any help. Hey, Ethan, let me know if you need me.” And just, one day I really heard what I was saying. And that word “need” really popped out at me, and it got me questioning, how is that word potentially impacting Ethan? Is it maybe making him question, have some self-doubt as if he can’t do this on his own?

That he might lack some confidence because he might be feeling that he always needs, whether it’s mom or somebody else. So I quickly changed that, started to change how I phrased it into things like, “Hey, let me know if you would like help. Hey, I’m here, let me know if you want something, if I can support you.” Just removing that word need, and I took that into the corporate world.

This is one of the things that when we’re coaching and training on communication, we talk about the power of even just a simple word.

So think about what that impact could be, if you were to just simply change how you offer support to someone else. I know you’ve got the best of intentions, that you might tell a co-worker, a direct report, maybe even your manager, “Hey, let me know if you need me. Let me know if you need help.” And you’re doing it with the best of intentions, but your intentions may not come across that way.

Especially if you are communicating with your direct reports. That could be implying again, some self-doubt that you have in their capabilities. And we certainly don’t want that to be the message. We want to have our direct reports be strong and feel confident, but we want to balance that with you showing as their manager, as their leader, that you are there should they want your help.

Changing that word “need” to potentially just even want, “Hey, let me know if you would like or want any support. I’m here, let me know if you get caught up in anything or have a question.” Try to rephrase how you offer support by removing the word need, and see how that potentially impacts the receiver, as well as just you, the communicator, and how you deliver that. That’s what we’re here to do, is unlock that X factor to make you the best communicator possible!

Should Everyone Develop Leadership Skills?

Should Everyone Develop Leadership Skills?

If you’re a people manager, I have to believe that over the course of time you’ve had one or more of your direct reports come to you and say, “Hey, I want leadership training.” And maybe that person hasn’t really been somebody who’s been interested or really ever is going to be interested in becoming a formal leader or an actual people manager. And you’re thinking, why would we invest in leadership training for you? Or maybe on the flip side, you’ve been really wanting one of your direct reports to go through leadership training, but they are fighting you saying, “But I don’t want to be a leader, I don’t want to manage people.”

So the question is, should everyone receive leadership training?

And I will tell you unequivocally yes, absolutely every single person should go through leadership training. As a past elementary school educator, I would even advocate for it to be a required course within the curriculum in elementary schools, all the way through early education. Every single person can benefit. If you think about what’s at the core, what are some of the foundational pieces of leadership training? It’s things like emotional intelligence, communication, visionary thinking, decision-making, problem solving.

Don’t those sound like skills we should all have to make us successful individuals, both personally and professionally? Can’t we see how having really strong emotional intelligence can help a non-people-manager when they’re collaborating with their peers? How critical decision-making skills can help a non-people-manager make a decision about moving a project forward or stalling it? Every single person can benefit from these leadership skills. So I encourage you as a people manager, to be open when a non-potential, non-emerging leader is coming to you, asking for this training, and for you to also proactively look to those team members who aren’t necessarily raising their hand to say, I want to be a leader.

Give them that training. We run our flagship Five-Star Leader Workshop and I will tell you, we see just as many non-people leaders participate in that workshop and walk away with tools that are going to help them not just personally be able to be better at their job and work better with others, but it allows them to bring those tools back and affect the greater good.

We all lead from wherever we’re at. So why not you as a people manager arm those so they can lead from where they’re at, at an even greater capacity, and drive greater results for themselves, the collaborative team, as well as the collective organization!

False Start for the Win

False Start for the Win

This woman was telling me her story, from childhood all the way through owning and selling a business. One of the things she was talking about in her childhood is how she ran track, and she talked about false starts. Immediately, my crazy TV brain went straight to a Seinfeld episode where Jerry gets a false start and ends up beating all the kids in the race. They think he’s this crazy fast runner, except for this one kid. I digress, it’s a classic Seinfeld episode called “The Race,” if you want to know what a false start really is from a comic standpoint, go check it out.

Anyhow, when you’re a runner, if you get a false start in a race, most of the time the rules say you’re disqualified. That’s it, you’re out of the race. So, as a runner, it is really, really important that you do not have any false starts. Now, my kids play lacrosse. So when they start the beginning of a quarter or play after a goal, it’s a face-off. But if there’s a false start, the kid’s not getting kicked out of the game, they’re not disqualified. The possession goes to the other team and play is in motion.

I don’t want to say it’s not a big deal, but it’s not like a disqualification big deal. So they are less focused on that than say a runner would be. So how do we think about this in leadership? Because we do a lot of training in leadership – it’s our big focus – and we work with leaders who have decades of experience, and they’ll tell us, “I wish I had this training when I first started,” which is why we love and we’re out there training emerging and new leaders. But even if you’ve been a leader or you’re out there on the beginning of your leadership journey, and you think, oh man, I just didn’t start off right. I wish I could go back and re-do it.

I get it; I had a false start as well.

My first promotion to having direct reports, I was only 26 or 27 years old and I had maybe six months of corporate experience. I had no leadership training, and I was so excited to be a leader. Like, “Oh, I’m going to do it this way and I’m going to do this and that.” It was almost all wrong. But guess what?

That false start was okay! It didn’t disqualify me from my leadership journey; it was just a place for me to learn a lesson, to learn what I should and shouldn’t be doing for the next part of my leadership journey. We’re not in this leadership journey as a one-off race. It’s okay for us to have these false starts. We’re not going to get disqualified by these little mistakes. You just have to start.

So I encourage you that, if you’ve been kicking yourself a little bit hard lately, like, “Gosh, I just haven’t been doing this right. This is not the type of leader I want to be, I haven’t been communicating properly, I know I want to do this better.” Just look at it as a false start, and start new. It’s not a one-off race; it is a continuous journey that we are on, this leadership journey.

Allow yourself some grace, know that you’ve had a false start, learn from it, and move on to the next step. Let us know how you feel about your false starts, and what you’re going to do to pick up and continue on your leadership journey!

Creating More Time to Amplify Your Thinking

Creating More Time to Amplify Your Thinking

The CEO of a small company was sharing with me during one of our coaching sessions that she was really struggling to find time for space to create and put together a new strategy, and really step out of her day-to-day business in order to uplevel. I hear this often, not just from business owners but from corporate executives, that they find themselves still kind of inundated with a bit of the minutia and the day-to-day.

Whether that day-to-day is task-oriented or people-oriented, whatever it is, they have a hard time finding time in order to step out and see more of the big picture, see the vision, take their energy and their creativity into that next level – and not only the next level for the team or the business, but even just the next level for themselves, in order for them to grow and to be more of that up-leveled executive or business owner. So, as we continue talking, one of the things that she shared is that she was having a hard time letting go; letting go, in this case, of one specific deliverable that was client-facing.

It was something that she created from the ground up, and what we identified was that part of it was a bit of a comfort zone for her. It was something that she had created, it was part of her daily routine. And so there was this feeling of loss, by thinking about taking it and giving it to someone else. Regardless of if we use the word delegation, I hear this often, “Colleen, I know I need to delegate, I have a hard time or I don’t have time.”

Regardless, one of the key pieces is that many times the thing that is keeping you or other leaders so in the day-to-day is this fear or the feeling of, if I move it I’m literally losing something; I have this loss, I’m getting rid of something that is so comfortable to me. Even though it may be the thing that is kind of irritating because it’s a time suck, or it’s taking too much of your energy, there is this emotional attachment that you may not even be aware of, because you’re thinking about this removal or delegation, the passing of the baton, as a loss – that you are getting rid of something.

So if you’re finding yourself in this space where after true assessment and true reflection you’re thinking, why am I having a hard time passing this off? If there is something that it is like, wow, I never thought about it this way, I never realized that I’m feeling this attachment because it’s just part of me, it’s part of what I’ve been doing maybe for two, three plus years in my role, in my day-to-day, and now I’m feeling this loss.

It’s less of a loss of something and more of an opening or a clearing, to allow for greater things to happen.

For you to uplevel as a leader, you will need to shift, delegate, move things to others, not only to free up space for you to be in more of that next-level thinking, but also to expand the capabilities of the team that’s around you. If you’re the one that is still working in that thing, whatever that thing is, day-to-day, it is limited to what you’ve brought to it. I don’t care how kick-ass that thing is that you’ve created, it is now limited to what you’ve done with it. It now should be moved over to the next individual, to bring their own ideas, innovation, and creativity to it, so that you not only have the space to create other new things, but this is now expanding under your guidance, under your leadership – creating an even greater impact than just thinking about the one thing you wanted to move over and do.

So I encourage you, that if you’re really looking for, how do I have more time, I know I need to delegate, if you’re feeling this fear of loss, think of it more as I’m moving this here to empower this individual, but to also create greater opportunity, something new while I’m also freeing space for me to create new. It’s double, if not 10 times the impact that could be had, versus you hanging on to that one thing.

What will you be doing next? I want to hear, and if you are interested in talking more about this shift and this change and how do we create new, how do we have confidence in that person that we are shifting to, how do we communicate that, how do we move to the next level? Message me, I would love to continue this conversation!