Getting clear on your "No"
Last week I talked about how to say "No". Review that blog first if you didn't get a chance to read it and watch the video. It is important to get it down so that you feel relatively comfortable about what you are saying "No" to and practice saying “No”.
Are you getting pushback on your "No"
Possibly you have said "No", and you are getting push back. Your boss says, basically, you can't say "No". Perhaps they didn't hear you or maybe they didn’t hear you correctly. Maybe they did hear you and don't believe you. They don’t believe you really mean it. At any rate, here is how to handle these situations.
The 3 R's of making "No" mean "No"
I'm on your side
It is probably hard for you to say “No” the first time around. Having to do it a second time will be even harder. I’m rooting for you to do it. I know you need less on your plate so that you can move towards more balance in your life.
Use of all available wisdom is true power!
As leaders we believe we should know the answers. People look to us to lead the way and set the pace. The truth is, we often don't actually know the answers and we don't know for sure what direction to go or how fast.
There may be help, right under your nose, to figure it out There may be wise sages around you.Yes, your staff members, your employees, those people who you are leading.
Among your team, are people who have more business experience and more life experience. There are people who have taken different training than you or worked with different customers or clients. There are people who have had the time to reflect and consider things in ways that maybe you have not. There are people who have lived through times and experiences much different than your.
These people may offer you much needed wisdom, if only you ask.
Seek these people out. Ask their advice. Have lunch with them. Offer to buy them a coffee. Then ask what they might do in your situation and why? Both their intuitive answer and their reasoning behind their pick may provide you with things you hadn't thought about.
Seek wisdom from your elders.
Today I have a fellow coach guest blogging for me. Joseph is an MCC. In coaching acronyms that means he's a Master Certified Coach. Those newer to the coaching profession like myself as an ACC (Associate Certified Coach) are often in awe of the MCC's. We admire them, look up to them and desire to follow in their footsteps.
As such I am grateful to be able to share Joseph thoughts. Find out more about Joseph here and follow his blog here.
Getting things done
According to Bossidy and Charan, authors of Execution, The Discipline of Getting Things Done, it is not lack of innovative ideas or planning or even enthusiasm, but the lack of actual execution of tasks that most undermines corporate success in North America. Is it not disturbing to find all the other components in good supply and yet the actual doing part is missing or implemented in a weak, slow and/or incomplete way? Some on the team will surely find this frustrating. The stakeholders will not accept it for long. The client base will soon erode toward those who can and do get it done.
Identify who owns the task
One of the key components of successful execution is to honestly identify who is the owner of the task. If the task owner remains the CEO trouble is likely. In smaller companies the line between the players can be a bit blurry sometimes so it is especially vital that the ‘owner’ of the task be clearly identified. And also essential that the group members put their shoulders behind the ‘owner’ since, again in a small company, that owner may not have a room full of staff to help do what needs doing. We are all Spartacus in a small company.
When it is decided, by whatever means, that a task is to be executed, a number of simple questions, answered sincerely and with commitment, can make all the difference between done and languishing. Here are some of the more basic questions.
* What are the deadlines for those absolute steps?
* Who will be the owner of each of these steps?
* What support help will be provided and by whom, to get these steps done
properly and on time?
Answering questions leads to success
When the foregoing and maybe a few more, questions are answered, the chances of success increase dramatically. How many tasks have you experienced where the above questions were clearly answered for all involved?
Honesty is non-negotiable
In order to get to the real answers and to make the task truly happen on time, honesty is non-negotiable. If something is not on track, naming it quickly, accurately and without emotion is the shortest path to solution and getting back on track. This means that some will feel uncomfortable. So be it. When trust and respect among the group members is high, the option of telling the truth promptly and fixing what needs fixing fast is strong. Being ‘nice’ just does not work. It slows things down and weakens the kind of fixes that are suggested. If the group is ‘together’ against the challenge of the task, no one will mind getting a bit of mud on them as they pull on that rope.
If we want to get to done sooner than the others, we need to be fully invested in getting it done and done on time and done well, together. Execution is a team activity.
Joseph Seiler MCC
coaching the best in business… you
Caught in a spider's web
Today I watched a dragonfly caught in a spider's web. I stood there captivated as he struggled to get free. Again and again he would try to fly away only to be drawn back by the silky web attached to the small branches. I watched as a large spider, only inches away, also watched. He observed his prey wrestling to free himself. The spider would come forward, closer to the dragonfly and then quickly pull back when the dragonfly struggled to no avail to get free. It was as if the spider knew it wasn't quite time to attack and so he waited. Patiently he watched as again and again the dragonfly tried to free himself.
It is hard not to interfere
As much as I wanted to, I did not interfere. I watched and waited, fascinated by nature. To take the time to observe nature I know offers many powerful lessons. Unfortunately my lesson came in a different form.
Are we setting others free?
Another walker came by, curious about what I was so intrigued with. When he seen the trapped dragonfly, he grabbed a twig and broke the spider's web setting the dragonfly free before I could even blink or suggest he just let it be. The spider, the walker said, could find himself another victim.
What might happen if we slow down and connect first?
I walked away disappointed. The other walker wasn't interested in slowing down long enough to really connect with what was happening. He chose not to pause, to connect or to observe. He swooped in solving the "problem" and moved on his way. Was there really a problem? Is this not natures way? How many times do we solve problems in others lives before really figuring out what the issue is?
What do people learn from solving their own problems?
Maybe the dragonfly was just about to get away on his own, learning his own strength when he stays determined. Or, what if the spider had finally figured out the "right" way to catch a dragonfly? Those lessons were just taken away, suddenly by someone who failed to slow down and connect.
Are we being efficient by running around solving problems all day?
We are a world of problem solvers. Give us a problem and we will fix it. We will make everything “all better” so we can move on. We don’t have time to let things sort themselves out or to really get a better handle on it. We look more efficient if we move through our day solving problems quickly. But is this really the efficient way?
Slowing down allows us to learn from problems
Slowing down like this is not something I've always done or even do as much as I would like to now. Yet when I do, I realize the power of it and it connects me more to my purpose.
In order for me to teach that to others, I must first learn to do it myself. I must first learn to slow down, to connect to what is really going on. Then I teach that and I live that so that others may learn too. I do this so that individuals slow down, organizations slow down and the world slows down. In doing so, in slowing down, rather than fixing other’s problems, we learn with them. We provide the space for them to learn how take the best course of action or make the best decision rather than doing it for them.
Lessons learned from a spiders and a dragonfly
The lesson for me was in seeing how hard it is for the world to slow down. It was a great reminder for me that I need to continue with the work I do!
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This picture was taken just a few days before my dog Angel was attacked. Thankfully, the attack by three boxers left me more emotionally shaken than my dog was physically hurt. In my reflections back, I’ve been able to see the many lessons the incident taught me. And I keep coming back to the main one around our need to be able to surrender.
Do you struggle to give in to things?
I like many of you, struggle to give in to things. I struggle to let go of something that isn’t working, not serving me or something I want so badly to happen, but isn’t. Let me give you an example. I continue to do my own book keeping for my company. I can do it. I am ok with figuring it out to a degree. It is however extremely time consuming, just a wee bit stressful and I know there is no way I do it anywhere as good as a competent bookkeeper might. Yet I continue to fight through it and resist hiring it out.
Nature can teach us lessons about surrendering
My dog taught me surrendering could actually be a good thing. That day, I went for a walk as I often do, completing a loop through the neighbourhood that takes me about 20 minutes. It’s a break in my day, an opportunity to connect with nature and a much needed exercise opportunity for both Angel and I. That particular day my Mother-in-law was visiting with her dog and decided to also come for the walk with me.
Submit to what is and stop resisting
About three quarters of the way through our walk we were enjoying the sun, our conversation and the dogs were trotting along beside us nicely. Suddenly my mother-in-law screams! Coming barreling out of nowhere these three dogs come chasing Angel and I down. One is clearly the aggressor and within seconds, he has Angel by the neck and despite my screams and my own aggressive kicks to this dog’s head, he refused to let go. In slow motion it seems, I watched my dog start to die in front of my eyes. She submits and stops resisting. I feel helpless. I can’t stop the attack and I can’t change what is happening in front of my eyes.
The consequence of submitting - everything is ok
My own screams eventually encourage my mother-in-law to go to the house and get the owner who runs out and using her own hands unclenches her dog’s mouth from Angel’s neck. My only thought then is to get out of there and fast! With the owner chasing me down to see if Angel is ok, Angel myself, my mother-in-law and her dog frantically head for home. Yes, Angel is ok, breathing fine and walking with me.
Although not entirely unscathed, a trip to the vet, some meds and time proved that Angel faired quite well from what could have been a much worse event. I was amazed and relieved!
Be wise to know when you are fighting a loosing battle
I believe what made the difference was that Angel didn’t resist. After initially trying to defend herself, she was wise enough to know that she couldn’t take on three boxers. She knew that if she tried to resist, she wouldn’t get very far and in fact might have been significantly hurt. Although I thought she was dying and she may have been, in actuality she was probably laying there saying “Will someone please get these dogs off me so I can finish my walk!”
Place your trust in what you know to be true
I believe Angel trusted me. She knew I would figure it out. I’ve always been there with her. Or maybe she trusted the laws of nature. Think of how many times do animals do this. They play dead or stop resisting so they can get out of the situation they are in. They surrender to what is happening.
Notice what you are resisting
We all resist things. I have seen many people stay in a job they hate. Their resistance only, causes havoc. Many times they are only making the situation worse for themselves and others. I have witness time and time again, people pushing themselves to the max when their bodies say stop! Take a break. Rest. Yet they don’t and cause themselves much more harm than is necessary. I myself, and know others, resist feeling certain emotions that are present. I fight to push emotion down. My anger, hurt or sadness gets covered with indifference or busyness. Yet we all know, repressed emotions come out sooner or later. And those buried feelings only fester and come out stronger, inappropriately or at the completely wrong time.
Surrender to what is happening
Surrendering to what is happening is a way of being conscious and present. If something is happening that you really don’t have the ability to change or impact, or honestly aren’t invested in anymore, get out. If you are sad, mad or glad, be sad, mad or glad. Don’t pretend you are feeling something you are not. Surrender to your body’s request for sleep, food or renewal.
Demonstrate your strength by surrendering
And yes, as Angel and three aggressive boxers taught me; me surrender to stronger more powerful forces. Let the storms pass. Know you are safe. When the time is right, come out and continue on your way knowing you really are stronger because you can surrender.
Great Leaders are readers. Great Leaders realize that leadership isn’t about a title. Leadership is the essence of who we are. To be a great leader we need to know who we are. With those concepts in mind, I am excited to be having a FREE virtual book club this summer to review Robin Sharma’s book The Leader Who Had No Title. I love Sharma’s ideas that leadership comes from who we are, what we believe in and how we show up. Sharma gives valuable and practical ways of stepping into leadership in all areas of our lives, regardless of our title. He packages the messages into a story about a guy who has returned from war in Iraq and takes on a job in a bookstore, because he not quite sure what to do with his life now. Do you want to read it with me?
Imagine a staff meeting. The boss is sharing information about budget restraints and they indicate there is no money for training in the next six months and likely the entire budget year. Person “A” leaves the meeting discouraged. There was a course they wanted to sign up for. They head out to smokers corner or the coffee room and join in the venting session with their co-workers. They lay blame (i.e. play victim) on the government for cutbacks, their agency for not advocating for them harder and the world for being in a downward spiral. They complain about the price of gas and food, potholes in the streets and of course, they grumble about the weather.
Does this sound a bit unbelievable? What if it wasn’t? In the FREE virtual book club this summer we will explore how leadership comes from all levels and how we can, as Robin Sharma says ,learn “Transformational leadership lessons to transform a company”. Click here to find out more details. or sign up below! Then join your colleagues and myself in exploring ways to bring out the leadership in everyone, including yourself.
As an upcoming leader I was sure that everyone around me, including my subordinates were smarter than me. I figured that others had more education and experience and thus had a jump on me. People at meetings seemed more worldly, savvy, funnier and connected and as such I felt, well honestly, a little bit like a hillbilly from the north! I knew I wasn’t the boss’s “favorite” and so I had to work harder to prove myself. Was there truth to any of this? Some of it yes was true. Camping in the Boreal Forest is far more my style than backpacking across Europe. A lot of it however was not true. It was made up in my head. I was, and am, well educated, smart, I have a playful side and I am very well connected. I now know my own self-assessment counts more than whether I am someone’s favorite.
At the time all of my insecurities had me doubt and question my abilities as a leader. In spite of that, I plowed ahead. I tried. I worked hard. I put myself out there. The more I did, the more successful I became, the more I accomplished and the more confident I felt. With that confidence came more. More competence, more opportunities, more successes and more acceptance of my strengths and myself. It appears, I needed to fake it til I made it. I needed to act, appear and come across as confident, to my employees, my colleagues, my world, but ultimately to myself. Faking it was really about harnessing that inner knowing. I had to connect to that part of me that knew I was smart, knowledgeable, capable and able.
Looking back, one of the turning points for me in my confidence as a leader was when I started working out. As my body became stronger, I stood taller. Gaining abdominal muscles will do that for you! I was discovering my confidence was increasing! Now as I research what makes a great leader, I discovered the science behind what was happening for me many years ago. Watching the body posture of others will tell you a lot about them, but how you hold your own body will speak volumes to you. Amy Cuddy, Social Psychologist at Harvard Business School, presented her research findings in this inspiring Ted Talk about the power of body language in our own confidence.
Cuddy suggests assuming a power position (think superman or superwoman) for two minutes in private, like your office or in the bathroom before heading into a meeting or onto a conference call will boost your self-confidence. It is similar to how animals make themselves appear larger than they are when they are confronted with danger. By making ourselves bigger and assuming a power position such as sitting up tall and taking up space or spreading your wings, has the effect of releasing a positive hormones that help with confidence.
So next time you are lacking confidence, stand up, take up some space and let those positive confidence hormones flow. The hormones that say, “I can do this”, “I am capable” and “Look out world! Here me Roar!”
I believe there is some value to assessments. In fact, I complete both a 360 Leadership Assessment and a Leadership Culture Survey for organizations. But the truth is the reason to conduct this type of analysis should not be to learn how to control employees. Instead, assessments can provide a guide for individuals to look inward at who they are, their skills, strengths and passions. It can be inspiring to them to see what they can do to be strong individually and a respected and valued contributing member to the organization. Rather than a weapon or a tool leaders have to demand a certain type of performance from their staff, assessments can be a gift to workers to find their potential so they can find the real meaning in their work.
That brings me to my next point. Our goal, and I this is where I see many organizations struggle, is to have everyone be an active contributing member of the team. Many organizations ask for input. They put people onto committees and put systems in place for everyone to contribute. Regrettably, in many situations, this is just lip service. The leaders and the leadership team have their own agenda and ideas. They know which way they want things to go and despite input from the team, they go in that direction, right or right, good or bad.
Assessments in your organization can show you and more importantly your employee where they will excel in the process of being active team members. It will provide guidance to explore how they show up at work, their communication styles and the impact of their responses to others so they can effectively work with others to achieve the results they and the organization are looking for.
The next time you evaluate someone who reports to you, slow the process down. See what the individual who is being assessed can glean from the process before you offer your input. Here are some potential questions to start the process:
Assessments can be powerful tools when used to promote employee growth and development rather than to control employees and demand they change. Look carefully at how you and your organization use assessment with individuals. Are they something people run from or are they an opportunity for real growth and development for the indivdual?
I vision leaders who are aware of changes in their organizations. They are mindful of the effect of change, how it is affecting everyone on their team and how it is impacting the day-to-day work.
I vision organizations where leaders are not afraid to name the change, to acknowledge it is there and to identify what is really happening. Neither are they afraid to address changes, to work through them, to meet them and to consciously monitor change, with the leader being in control of its speed and direction.
I vision organizations where there are many many leaders. I vision organizations where leaders rise to the challenge whether they have the title or not.
I vision organizations where everyone is invested. People care for and believe in what they are doing.
I vision organizations that work through conflicts. They find alignment in the direction they are going and as such are not afraid of disagreements, challenges or difficult paths.
I vision organizations that flourish, bloom, compete and create things that others never thought possible.
My belief is that by visioning, dreaming, creating, imagining, doing, living and being that these organizations can exist again and again and again.
This dream, this vision, this belief is:
- the way in which I do my work
- the way in which I move forward as I encounter others, as I coach individuals and teams, as I train, as I speak to them and as I write
- the way in which I live my day-to-day life with my family and in my community.
I approach life and I approach day-to-day challenges and opportunities with the belief that it is possible to have a world and to have organizations in which people are connected, people are conscious and people passionate about what they do, where they live, where their children go to school, the earth around them, the air they breathe and about other people.
From this place I am able to sit down at my computer, pick up the phone, go to an event, write and do my work, knowing that others believe this is possible; knowing that others are creating this same vision as I.
Special Note: My company is called Silver River Coaching. The Silver River is the Milky Way Galaxy. It reminds me that we should always be reaching for the stars!
Being in control, means that I expect others to do it my way. My kids, husband and staff over the years will tell you that I like people to come to my side, to see my views and while I hear their opinions, listen to their arguments and appear to be working collaboratively, I am becoming really aware that it's not truly been that way. The impact is that people give in and often they resent giving in. While they may follow me, there is frustration, irritation and annoyance on their part.
To give up control might look like someone else driving the boat for a while. For me it will be hard to trust that others can make choices about mutual journeys and to believe that even though it may not be the path that I have planned, it will be ok. I am aware though that by allowing someone else to take me on a new path, I will have the amazing ability to see new things. Potentially things that I didn't even know where there some times. Places I didn't know existed and that I never would have found doing it all my way.
As great leaders, one of the most difficult things is realizing that leaders aren't always in the front. Some of the greatest leaders in history where never in the front, not controlling and not making all the decisions AND they took their teams to great places. Really it is not about me as a leader or anyone else having control. It's about leading a team, a family, or a community group to work together and make joint decisions. Decisions we can all align around together, fully commit to and to move forward from there.
I lead a full life full of love, adventure and growth. Check out my latest thoughts here.
And if you want to know more about me check out my personal blog at www.kathyarchersblog.com
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