Here you go, a brand new July edition of the YOUNG INFLUENCERS LIST. You can see all the past months lists here.
Here you go, a brand new July edition of the YOUNG INFLUENCERS LIST. You can see all the past months lists here.
I’ve been reminded recently of the constant tension on a team. And…. the Tension is Good. We talked about this and leaned into this phrase before, and actually dealt with it as an event theme back in 2010 at Catalyst Atlanta. The right kind of tension is important for teams, as well as for individuals. It stretches and shapes and allows for growth.
But there are other things that can creep into a team and poison it quickly. Things that sneak up fast and before you know it, start to define the team and take everyone off course. In the wrong direction. Headed the wrong way.
Here are a few of the poisons to make sure and avoid:
1. Arrogance- Pride comes before the fall, and for teams, the same holds true. Jim Collins talks about this at length in his book How the Mighty Fall. Humble confidence is the ticket.
2. No communication- this one is the most common poison for all teams to have some form of. The remedy? Overcommunicate. Be intentional and make sure folks are in the know. For team leaders, this one is tough. I struggle at this.
3. Me first, vs. We first- see this alot on high profile sports teams. Or with celebrities. As they say, there’s no “I” in team. A WE first mentality starts at the top with the leader who has to set the tone in word AND deed. If you are hearing “it’s not my job,” then it’s time for a gut check.
4. Jealousy and Cynicism- many times these go hand in hand and one follows the other. The remedy? Confronting it head on. Don’t allow jealousy or cynicism or cliques to form. Stomp it out immediately. Team members have to confront it with each other, as many times the team leader won’t be aware of this until later.
5. Distrust- either not trusting the leader, or not trusting each other. A killer of morale and momentum. Trust comes with time, but also is fueled by interaction and shared experiences. So make sure you are creating opportunities for trust to be built within and among your team.
6. Lack of Vision, and Lack of reality- this usually shows up in the form of a team lacking self awareness. And starts at the top with the team leader. One of the roles of a team leader is to constantly cast vision, but also to confront reality head on and make sure everyone is aware of reality. Don’t allow your team to live in fantasy land. You should cast vision constantly, yes, but you should also deal with reality constantly.
What else would you say poisons teams in your experience?
Building a bridge is an art. Not literal bridges that you drive over, although those are incredibly important….
I’m referring to building bridges in business, friendships, co-workers, mentors, and key partnerships. I’m referring to building a new relationship with your neighbor. I’m referring to connecting with someone that you’ve wanted to meet with for a long time and only having 15 minutes for a meeting. How do you turn that meeting into an hour or more, and then eventually into a friend?
Many folks just think that showing up is half the battle. Well, sort of. But there’s more. When it comes to winning a client, or inking a new partnership, or developing a new friendship, there are some key things I’ve learned over the years that might be helpful.
A few thoughts:
1. Love people until they ask why. Let your actions speak so loud that people can not help but pay attention. Let them see your authenticity, and ultimately demand an explanation for the reason you do what you do.
2. Prove your craft before asking for something. Excellence, skill and know how is key on this. Show that you are competent before you demand that they should partner with you.
3. Ask more questions than they do. I love this one. Many times asking great questions is way more strategic than giving great answers.
4. Spend lots of time listening. Once you’ve asked a great question, listen. And listen more. And listen more.
5. Find points of connection and shared interests, and be intentional. A crucial part of great bridge building. Find out what motivates someone, what their interests are, what they enjoy. Is it sports? rock climbing? history? Whatever it is, find out and then build on those areas of shared interests.
6. Connect them to others. Great connectors and bridge builders are always figuring out ways to introduce their friends within their circle. Claire at Twitter does this amazingly well. And here’s the key on this- the ultimate value for the connection is not for you, it’s more for others.
7. Follow up. This is the #1 step that everyone seems to forget. We have to follow up. Never assume that because you haven’t heard from someone, it means they are not interested. They’re busy, just like you. Take the first step and reach out. And then reach out again. And then again.
We always have a bunch of interns at Catalyst. And most folks on the Catalyst team have cut their teeth in their “first job” here at Catalyst. They are all really talented, really sharp, and really hungry to learn.
Having young early 20 somethings around reminds me of the days when I started my first “real” job just after college. And while that wasn’t that long ago, I feel like there are a few things I’ve learned since then that might be good reminders for recent college graduates, or those just entering the “workforce.”
1. Show up on time (early). As I tell our team all the time: If you are on time, you’re late. If you are early, you’re on time.
2. Always have something to write with and write on. This is crucial. Don’t go strolling off to a meeting without pen and paper, unless you are planning to take notes on your phone, on your iPad, or on your laptop.
3. Be informed. Regardless of what you are doing, be informed before you get there- whether that’s a new job, or a meeting, or a lunch appointment. Do some research and show up educated about the topic, about the person, or about the context.
4. Be intentional. Start your first day by asking great questions and being inquisitive.
5. Request the tough assignments. Take initiative and request the tough assignment that no one else really wants. Not as a brown noser, but as a go getter.
6. Relentlessly get things done. When given responsibility and a task to get done, make it happen and try your best to get it done early. Then anticipate what else needs to get done beyond what you were assigned, and get that done. Under promise and over deliver.
7. Remember names. If you are new in a large office with hundreds of staff, this one can be especially difficult. But it’s your responsibility. Know everyone by their first and last name within your first week. If that means studying the staff directory at night, so be it.
8. Know what your leader/boss appreciates. If your boss appreciates humor, then lean into that. If your boss appreciates staying late, then lean into that. If your boss appreciates constant feedback, lean into that. If your boss appreciates Chipotle, lean heavily into that….!!
9. Figure out the team culture, embrace it, and add to it. Our team culture at Catalyst includes several key elements- food, hard work, loud, fun, young, etc. Whatever the key elements of a team culture where you are coming in as the newbie, try to add to it. So, for example, if your team’s culture is built around food, then add to that and bring in some snacks without being asked. If it’s celebration, then add a new way to celebrate. If it’s being loud, add a new loud instrument to the team breakroom.
Being a leader doesn’t exempt you from being a good employee. Matter of fact, as leaders, we should strive to be the best in all we do, not just being “good” or “better.”
“Good” is doing what is expected of you. This typically falls in the slightly above-average range and is relatively easy to achieve with a bit of focus and determination. “Better” is rising a little higher than good and typically means you are comparing yourself to the next one in line.
But best is where you should want to live. It is greatness and doesn’t mean you are better than everyone else but that you’re working to your maximum capability.
Whether the one in charge, or just simply part of the team, our goal should be to create an environment that thrives on excellence and always strives to be the best.
This can be a challenge but I’ve discovered 10 ways to be the best employee there is:
1. Write everything down. Never show up to a meeting without something to write with and something to write on. And write it down. Everything. Otherwise you’ll forget. I don’t care who you are.
2. Honor people’s time. Show up early and finish on time.
3. Come with solutions, not just ideas. This is crucial. Move towards completion, not away from it. Ideas are great, but always have to lead towards the finish line.
4. Learn how to anticipate. Be one step ahead. Do something every day you weren’t “asked” or “told” to do, but know you should do.
5. Be a disciplined learner. Understand it is your role to be an expert, no matter what level or role you play in an organization. Don’t just be one step ahead of your boss in being skilled at your job …. be an expert.
6. Listen well. Listen when in a conversation; don’t just think about what you are going to say in response. Listen for next steps, not current realities- this has to do with anticipating.
7. Reflect most of the credit; take all the blame. This is more for leaders, but still a great principle to put into practice no matter what level you are in the organization. Be a reflector of praise, not an absorber. Absorb the blame if at all possible.
8. Never speak negatively of your peers for personal gain. This is a hard one for everyone, especially when your boss or superior wants to pit you against that peer and see how you respond. Don’t give in to that. Stay above it.
9. Push back. Almost every organizational leader I know wants their team members to challenge the process, question assumptions, bring new ideas to the table, and push back when they don’t agree. Don’t be afraid to do this. If your leader is not mature enough to take this, then they probably shouldn’t be in the position they are in. If unsure on whether you truly have “permission” to push back, ask for permission on the front end.
10. Take on more responsibility. Ask for more power and involvement, and you’ll be lifting the load of your employer or boss. That is always a welcomed conversation. Always. Help by taking on more.
Today only- The Catalyst Leader book Kindle version is available for $2.99 on Amazon.
Again, today only- THURSDAY, JULY 3. The Catalyst Leader Kindle version is $2.99 on Amazon.
Buy one for yourself and one for a friend to pass on.
And if you’ve already read the book, then please buy 2 copies of the Kindle version for your friends/family.
This is such a great deal!
Thanks for the support! And thanks to our friends at Amazon for making this possible.
Here you go, the June Edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all of the past month’s lists here.
7. Daniel Sturridge- professional soccer player for Liverpool and the England national team.
I have great respect for professional baseball players; they are anything but wimpy. To stand in front of home plate with a ball heading toward your head at 95 miles per hour with nothing but a piece of wood to bat it away takes guts.
Life and leadership are a lot like baseball. Even the best batters strike out sometimes. But a true athlete, and courageous leaders, can never run away from the pitch.
I may not play baseball, but I do snow ski, and the analogy is much the same. The first time I faced the challenge of a mogul run on a black diamond slope that was steep and overwhelming, it was tough for me to muster the energy to get down the mountain. While gazing over the steep side from the top of the run, my friend’s advice was, “Point your skis down the hill and keep your nose over your tips. You have to lean forward and over your ski tips. Even when you are overcome with fright, maintain a posture of nose over tips, rather than leaning back.” In essence: lean back and you fall.
This is not only great advice for skiing steep slopes but also good advice for leadership. As a leader, you sit atop the mountain. You have no choice but to face the slopes. You can lean back, coast, and play it safe, snowplowing your way painfully back and forth across the mountain, or you can point you skis down the hill, nose over the tips, and dominate the run. Being a courageous leader requires you to push beyond the norm, be willing to take risks and quit being a wimp.
Courage is not an individual trait but an organizational one. It’s a natural instinct that all leaders confront fear of failure and fear of the unknown. But living in that fear is destructive for a team and will kill momentum.
Courage is not waiting for your fear to go away; it is confronting your fear head-on.
Through working with young leaders around the nation, I have found six essentials that can help build a culture of courage in an organization:
1) Set scary standards. Your level of excellence and expectation for your product, service or experience should be something that is nearly unattainable. Safe goals are set by safe leaders with safe visions. Give your people a goal that scares them, and you’ll produce leaders who know what it means to overcome fear.
2) Allow for failure. The road to success is many times paved through multiple failures. Allow for and even encourage your team to fail as they attempt to succeed.
3) Make decisions. Don’t let ideas, strategy, communication, and important organizational markers sit idly by on the side without saying yes or no. Leaders are decision makers, and must do it constantly.
4) Reward innovation. Innovation requires taking risks. And bold risks create bold team members. Rewarding innovation will challenge your team to grow in their roles.
5) Pursue the right opportunities. Not every risk is a good one. Be disciplined. Aggressively pursue a few things that make sense. Say no often.
6) Learn to delegate. This is one of the most courageous things a leader can do. Entrusting others with important tasks requires letting go and relinquishing control. Liberally pass responsibility and authority to your team. If you want your team to be courageous, give them the chance to lead. Early and often.
These elements aren’t easy to nurture in a corporate setting. You and your colleagues will likely resist it at every turn. As G.K. Chesterton said, “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live, taking the form of readiness to die.” Courage mingles our desire to rush forward with a willingness to accept the possibility of being stopped in our tracks.
Yet if you desire to be a leader who changes the world, you have no choice but to exhibit courage on a constant basis.
The good news is that unlike some leadership traits, courage is not inborn; it’s learned. The natural response is to run from what frightens us, but life’s greatest leaps occur when we resist this impulse.
Remember when you were completely fearless as a kid? Children often demonstrate courage naturally. Most of us can think back to times as a child when we stepped out in courage. Whether riding a bike without training wheels, jumping into the deep end of the pool, or letting go of the rails to ice-skate without assistance, life teaches us that progress requires courage. We have to be willing to get out to the edge, look at what is in the front of us, summon up the fortitude, and jump.
The jump may be risky, but the decision to stay where you are is even more so.