Do You Want Your Team to Love or Fear You? | BridgeBetween.com

Do You Want Your Team to Love or Fear You?

It’s possible to maintain control and be friendly with your team!

Do you want your team to love or fear you? There’s a school of thought that says that you can’t lead a team and be friendly with its members.

It’s the same thought that states that you can’t be friends with your kids. The power position makes it impossible, as one will always have power over the other, so true friendship is not in the cards.

There is SOME truth to the notion that you probably can’t be best friends with the members of your team. Still, there is no reason why you can’t be friendly. Being nice doesn’t undermine your effectiveness as a leader; if anything, it improves it!

So how can you do your job as a leader and still have your team members like you?

Watch your reactions

When something goes right, or when your team experiences success, everyone expects a positive reaction. When something goes wrong, it’s normal to not throw a party BUT how you react to a negative is vital.

If your team is cowering, afraid of your reaction to a failure, that’s a bad situation. You position yourself as being inflexible and unable to roll with the punches, which isn’t a trait most people look for in a leader. Realizing that most leaders have a lot of pressure on them to perform, negativity can take over without your even realizing it.

If instead, you maintain an ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ attitude that reflects the desire to find the good in a bad situation — or to, at the very least, take a positive step forward from a failure — your team will love you more than ever before. Embracing failure as a teachable moment and moving on, rather than laying blame and being negative, will put you on a high road.

Moreover, your team is likely to follow your lead: if you’re positive, they’ll be able to find the good in a situation too. If you’re chronically negative, you will see that reflected in their behavior too.

The rules apply to you, too

Deadlines, documentation standards, processes… there are a lot of rules that need to be observed in the course of the workday, in getting things done. The leader who is beloved is one who does not think him or herself above the rules.

If you expect your team to behave a certain way, follow certain processes and adhere to specific standards, you need to behave that way, follow that process and adhere to those standards too. While you’re their leader, you are ALL a team and the whole works better if you set the example and behave that way.

Give people time and attention

Yes, your schedule is probably booked up. But, if you want to build and maintain strong relationships, you need to make time for your team. One-on-one and as a group, team building is an ongoing process. It’s not something that happens on a one-off trip to a mountain resort for a weekend of trust building exercises.

Trust comes over time. Your team will appreciate that you are interested in each of them as individuals —  not as ‘performers’; not as a number; not as a cog who will get the job done. Caring about your team members, both in terms of their personal and professional well being, will get you the team that cares about you and the projects you are entrusted with.

Share helpful feedback

Feedback also is an important part of sharing your time. You need to provide useful and constructive feedback on performance in a timely manner.

Waiting for annual reviews to pile on the information is neither useful nor helpful. Feedback, even when it is something to work on rather than straight up praise is important because team members will see that you appreciate the effort, that you’ve noticed their work.

It’s an important way of giving them your time and attention that will pay back in dividends over time!

Be kind

If nothing else, being kind is valuable. That means no gossiping. No sniping mean things about other teams or leaders. No rolling your eyes when one of your team members is late because their child is sick. The list of examples is endless, but the bottom line is the same. Kindness pays.

“Whatever possession we gain by our sword cannot be sure or lasting, but the love gained by kindness and moderation is certain and durable.” ~ Alexander the Great

Working with your team with generosity and kindness comes from a place of gratitude. You can foster that within yourself and your leadership style by paying attention to being grateful. For that, our Grounded in Gratitude Journal can help you on your way with 384 pages of inspiration to remind you daily about what’s important.

4 Steps to Improve Your Speech | BridgeBetween.com

4 Steps to Improve Your Speech to Make an Impact Through Speaking

Do you need to improve your speech? As a thought leader, or a team leader, the technical aspects of your speech make a big difference in terms of the impact your speaking has on your team, the C-Suite or an auditorium full of people.

Even when you’re not giving a speech to hundreds of people, the way you speak every day thoroughly impacts how much people hear.

4 Steps to Improve Your Speech

Step 1 – Hear yourself

You will never know what you sound like to other people until you record yourself and listen. Record yourself speaking in different contexts. At a meeting, at a presentation, on a conference call, in chatting with others.

Then listen to the recordings carefully. You’ll hear all the things that make your speaking pattern less impactful.

Here are some issues that tend to crop up for many people:

  • The speed of your speech – too fast and no one follows; too slow and they’re asleep.
  • The enunciation of your words – do you tend to mumble or are you clear?
  • The tone of your speech – are you monotone or do you squeak like a mouse? Neither is desirable!
  • The verbal tics of filler words – using ‘um’ or ‘ah’ with astonishing regularity.
  • The tendency to avoid punctuation – when you’re speaking, it’s best to pause as you would if you were punctuating your speech. It makes it clearer and easier to hear.
  • The tendency to finish sentences in an upward tone, as if you are always asking a question – this tends to make it sound as if you aren’t confident in what you are saying, that you are seeking the approval of the listener.

Step 2 – Watch your speed

Speed of speech is one of the most difficult issues to get a handle on. We each tend to have a rhythm of speech that doesn’t necessarily change, depending on circumstances. But it should!

What’s an appropriate speed? For a conversational level of speech, it should take you about a minute to read 160 words. Write something out that is that long and then read it out loud, while you record and time yourself.

If you’re in the zone of about 150-170 words a minute, you’re okay for conversational speaking. If you’re speaking on a technical subject, however, you might want to slow it down a little.

Step 3 – Banish filler words

“Like”, “Um”, “Ahhh”… We all use them but they have the tendency, when you used a lot, to make the speaker sound unsure of themselves at best. When leaders pepper their speeches with these filler words, the reaction of listeners tends to be that they find that leader to be less effective, or are concerned about their level of knowledge and ability.

Of course, these words are no reflection on knowledge and ability but perception is reality, so if you know you tend towards a verbal filler like ‘Um’, you have to get out of the habit.

Listen to yourself speaking and figure out why it is you are using that filler word. Is it to give yourself time to pull together your thoughts or turn a page on your notes and refocus?

You can give yourself that pause without using a verbal filler but instead employing something more elegant like: “Another important point is…” or some other transition from one thought to the next.

Another reason for excessive fillers is if you haven’t prepared what you want to say. For general conversation, this is, of course, unnecessary! But when you’re speaking to an audience, even if it’s a team in a conference room, knowing what you want to say in roughly the order you want to say it will make your speech more effective and you will find less need for transitional fillers.

Step 4 – Enunciate

There is no less effective to communicate than mumbling. In fact, mumblers are not only impossible to hear and understand, but there is a tendency to view mumbling as laziness or lack of interest in the subject matter. Nothing will lose you an audience faster than your seeming to be totally uninterested in the topic at hand.

Practice enunciating all your syllables, even if it is exaggerated at first, to get to a point where you eliminate any mumbling. Even non-mumblers can get caught doing it at the end of a sentence, their voices trailing off. Instead, stay strong and enunciate right up to the end!

If you’re not sure of your speech patterns, watch and listen to others — TEDx speakers are usually great examples of people who speak well and captivate listeners. Your speaking must radiate confidence in order to be perceived as knowledgeable.

And smile when you speak. There is a lot of truth to the fact that you can hear a smile in someone’s speech. Try it. Say something with a smile and then say the same thing without a smile, and record both. You’ll hear the difference immediately!

It takes practice and a little perseverance but you can alter your speech patterns and, in so doing, improve the impact you make when you speak.

 

What’s In a Strong Leader? | BridgeBetween

What’s In a Strong Leader?

There are many ways that a strong leader distinguishes themselves from a weak one, or worse, a truly negative one. Often, when you look at leaders around you, their flaws seem obvious but their positive traits are harder to discern. All you really know when you see a leader who is truly strong is that you are willing to hear them and follow them.

There are a couple of ways that a strong leader differentiates themselves from weak ones that are easily identifiable however; it’s these traits that are in stark contrast when compared to a leader who does not have them.

Strong leaders don’t need to weaken others

A little gossip around the water cooler can be a very bad thing for leaders. A frank and honest discussion about issues and how to move forward is a good thing for leaders. Do these two types of chatter seem like one and the same? They’re not.

A good leader won’t disparage others publicly or otherwise, whether peers or those who work for them. A weak leader lacks confidence and thinks they are gaining some by denigrating those around them or ignoring bad behavior rather than dealing with it.

A strong leader would not only not belittle others but would not stand for others being belittled. They would have the confidence to deal with a conflict situation directly, calling out any elephants in the room. It’s not always a comfortable position but it’s vital to their leadership status.

 

Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish. —Sam Walton (Source)

 

Strong leaders trust

A good leader will always deal with their team from a position of trust. A weak leader will come from a place of fear, which often results in bullying. You’ve all heard of leaders who yell and scream, all in the name of intimidation, to get what they want done but in the end, they aren’t effective, the team has no morale and it’s easy to see why they don’t last for the long term.

Along with that trust comes teamwork. A strong leader will influence others to act appropriately, support one another, and work together, to find the common path. A weak one will create division and competition within the team, believing that this is the best way of maintaining their own power.

Strong leaders live their power

Power doesn’t come from dividing people and it certainly doesn’t come from a title. Anyone can call themselves the CEO of XYZ or have that title given to them, but if they don’t truly and totally embody the role, it will only ever be a title.

A leader that inspires is one that believes in him or herself and, by extension, those around them. It’s a very motivating thing to be close to power and even more so when it is wielded by someone who knows how.

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. —John Maxwell (Source)

5 Necessary Elements for Effective Teams | BridgeBetween.com

5 Necessary Elements for Effective Teams

You’ve got a team assembled. Now what?

Bodies in chairs do not a team make! There are elements which are necessary within a team for it to work as a finely oiled machine. After all, a solid team can create unbelievable results as well as competitive advantage in the marketplace:

“The idea of building a good team is not just an abstract: these are real people, real projects and real goals.”

But bringing together different personalities with a range of skills and goals, you have to find some common points to build a cohesive team.

It’s important for any good leader to build up their teams to reflect five common elements of team success:

  • Results
  • Accountability
  • Commitment
  • Conflict
  • Trust

We’ll look at each of these in turn, in ascending order:

1. Trust

If you’ve ever worked in a group where team members didn’t trust each other, you’ll know exactly how it feels, compared to a team that has built up that inter-member reliance.

From a business point of view, trust comes with transparency. You’re not guessing what your colleagues are thinking: you know. You’re not wondering if someone is talking behind your back because they’re not. A team that has trust has members that have each other’s backs in terms of support for one another.

They’re also quick to point out and accept errors. That’s because, with trust, you know that your colleague isn’t pointing out a mistake to get you in trouble or for their own gain. They’re pointing it out because it’s in the interest of the common goals that you all agree on.

Honesty is vital to building real trust.

2. Conflict

It’s unrealistic to imagine a team of people agreeing about everything, all of the time. Conflict is inevitable but it’s the style of conflict that the team engages in that matters. This is linked to trust in that if you don’t have a team whose members trust one another, you can’t have healthy debates about issues and ideas.

Constructive disagreement is totally acceptable, knowing that the goal each person has is not to ‘take down’ the other but to contribute to the good of the team.

A team that can engage in debate but still provide a safe environment where everyone is heard respectfully is a solid team!

3. Commitment

When everyone has a voice and that voice can be expressed in a safe, trust-based environment, then it’s that much more likely that everyone on the team will be committed to whatever decision comes at the end of the discussion.

It doesn’t become about winning or losing: the commitment to a team and its decisions means compromise, sometimes, but again with the knowledge that everyone is working toward a common goal or results.

4. Accountability

Teams flounder when there are members who aren’t pulling their own weight. A committed team will hold each other accountable to the plans, processes and steps that need to be taken, to ensure that everyone is ‘in the game’, so to speak.

No one takes the credit and no one takes the blame but every team member does have to serve every other team member and one way to do that is through accountability.

Think of a football team, as an analogy. The goal for the team as a whole is to get the ball to the other end of the field. Each person on the team has a role to play and they know what that role is. If the quarterback stops doing his job or the halfback quits halfway through a play, the team, as a whole, will fail, so they hold each other accountable.

By working as a team and supporting one another and holding each person accountable for their part of the play, the team works as a cohesive whole and will score.

“By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!” (Source)

5. Results

This is the end goal of any team: to work together to achieve results. Whatever those results are, there is always a goal and getting there as a team creates strength that can be leveraged onwards.

With a solid grasp on these five elements, a team can make decisions quickly and effectively, leverage everyone’s differing skills, value all opinions, avoid destructive conflict, and have a solid goal that each member has a stake in reaching.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? If you want your team working and thinking this way, contact us to take part in the ‘Five Elements of Effective Teams’ program. It’s a benefit for the individuals, the team as a whole and the organization that supports them!

The Net Effect of Having A Positive Outlook | BridgeBetween.com

The Net Effect of Having A Positive Outlook

In a leadership role, a positive outlook is a vital trait to cultivate!

Whether you manage a team or run an entire company, when you are in a position of leadership, you have to be aware of the things that can affect people’s perception of you and your capacity to lead.  A positive outlook is important!

Perception is, as they say, reality, so taking care of how direct reports see you is important. Now, I’m not saying you need to be blindly happy-go-lucky, almost impervious to the realities of business, and take that can-do attitude to a point where people are irritated with you.

You can’t be ultra positive all the time; no one can! But you can be aware of your attitude and how it affects others, adjusting when necessary.

The elements of how to think positively, even when the chips are down aren’t difficult but do require you to be aware of them:

Set goals

Positive people always know where they’re going. They have a plan and goals, achievements they wish to reach and that’s what creates momentum. It’s precisely these goals that help you to maintain a positive attitude because forward momentum is always impactful, in a good way!

Believe in yourself and your goals

Self-confidence goes a long way to creating that positive attitude that everyone needs to see, even in the face of failure. It’s important to know that one failure doesn’t make up a whole person; risk-taking is essential to business success.

Sometimes those risks pan out, sometimes they don’t, but keeping in mind that the failure is usually not about personal skills but about circumstances will make all the difference.

Even if skills, or a lack of them, contributed to a failure, a positive attitude will see you through taking stock and learning from the experience, rather than letting it defeat you.

Learn to manage defeat

While a toddler will experience defeat by throwing themselves on the floor and having an epic tantrum, leaders need to develop the ability to move on from the base desire to flip out and instead embrace emotions as things that motivate us.

With that in mind, you can use the emotions to move forward in a stable, rational way, rather than expressing frustration inappropriately, to the detriment of others.

Leaders aren’t robots, but they do have to regulate their emotions to some extent and learn the lesson that decisions made in the height of negative emotions are rarely good ones. Step back… breathe… and remember that others are watching to see how they should behave.

Show the behavior you wish your team members to emulate!

Look on the bright side

There is ALWAYS a silver lining, in any situation. The ability to find it and promote it should be a priority. Creating positive solutions to a problem will help you to develop that skill in your team members. If you are miserable, your team members will be too.

If you are positive, in an intelligent and motivating way, they will be too. People want, by nature, to be associated with things that are positive. It uplifts them individually, which in turn contributes to a greater and stronger team as a whole.

Looking to create solutions, rather than dwelling on defeat, is an important skill that stems from a positive outlook.

Be grateful

This is essential! Looking forward is important. So is looking back. What has already been accomplished? Expressing gratitude for those things and the people who helped you succeed is just as valuable.

Giving credit to others is a positive thing that uplifts everyone, yourself included! It reflects an open-mindedness and fundamental understanding that most successes are a team effort.

Positivity is a trait that can be developed. If you’re mindful of the ways in which it can be good for your leadership, you can learn how your attitude affects others. You’ll also start to notice how your reaction to events can change the events themselves and how you can change.

Gratitude is a huge part of self-reflection, and you can start on the path to positivity with the Grounded in Gratitude 5-Year Journal. It was created to help you find the positive energy that is centered in gratitude. Make gratitude a part of your leadership style and use it to move yourself and your team forward.