Rising Above the Mob: 5 Leadership Lessons from 1 Hawk and 3 Crows

A few days ago I was tidying up the back yard when the noise of several crows caught my attention. That’s not out of the ordinary for my neighborhood. Although I haven’t done an official tally, I’m pretty sure the ratio of crows to humans is 1:1 in my neck of the woods. Anyway, there was a real commotion going on.

When I looked up, I noticed there was a red-tailed hawk circling overhead and the crows weren’t too happy about it; hence all the racket. The hawk seemed to be minding his own business. He was majestically gliding through the air in circles, occasionally flapping his wings once or twice, but mostly being powered along by the air currents pushing him gently higher and higher into the sky.

The neighborhood flock of crows (or murder if you prefer the old-school term for a group of crows) had nominated three of their brethren to express their displeasure to the hawk about him invading their turf. The three delegates flew about the hawk in a menacing manner, dive bombing him from different directions and trying to knock him off course, all the while hurling bird epithets at him with their squawking and cawing.

Despite the crows’ ruckus, the hawk seemed to take it all in stride. Occasionally the hawk slightly deviated his course when he was closely buzzed by a crow, but for the most part he kept circling in a consistent pattern. The crows had to expend a lot more energy than the hawk to maintain their efforts. They furiously flapped their wings to match the speed of the hawk, forcing them to take turns in harassing the larger bird. Upward and upward the hawk climbed, and the more altitude he gained, the more difficult it was for the crows to keep pace. Eventually, the crows tired of their of their pursuit as the hawk soared out of reach.

I thought to myself, “Why were those crows harassing that hawk?” As with all of life’s existential questions, I turned to Google for help. It turns out those crows were engaging in what’s known in the animal world as mobbing behavior. The hawk represented a threat to the crows, so they cooperatively worked together to mob the hawk in an attempt to drive him away.

Mobbing behavior isn’t limited to birds; people engage in it, too. And sometimes being a leader can feel like being a hawk getting pestered by an angry mob of crows. I don’t think any hawks read my blog, but I know some leaders do, so here’s five lessons I think we can learn from our avian advisers:

  1. Expect to be crapped on—It turns out that one of the primary behaviors of mobbing birds is to defecate on the intruder. Nice, huh? Talk about dropping a bomb…anyway, leaders get crapped on, too. We should expect it because it comes with the territory. Gossip, backbiting, passive-aggressiveness, or outright resistance are all forms of crap leaders occasionally have to endure. Expect to occasionally encounter your fair share of crap so you aren’t caught by surprise when it happens. No matter how pure or noble your intentions, there will be people who don’t like what you’re doing and will let you know about it.
  2. Understand defensiveness—The crows didn’t mob the hawk for no reason; they mobbed him because they were afraid. It’s hard to get inside the brain of a crow (although I have been called a bird-brain before), but I imagine they were concerned the hawk might be looking for some delicious crow eggs for lunch, or maybe even a small baby crow if he was feeling extra hungry. In this way, people are similar to birds. When they perceive a threat in their environment, it creates fear and causes them to react defensively. If your people are starting to show signs of developing a mob mentality, figure out the root of their fear and address that issue. Too often we make the mistake of addressing the symptoms of a problem rather than the cause. Defensiveness can kill our relationships without us even realizing it.
  3. Check your motives—The hawk isn’t completely innocent in this situation. Why was flying in this particular area? Was he truly minding his own business or did he have ulterior motives? I don’t know. I asked but he didn’t respond. As leaders, we need to be clear on our motives. Are we behaving in self-serving ways, or do our actions reflect a desire to serve our people and organizations for the greater good?
  4. Don’t get distracted—Assuming your leadership behavior is driven by the right reasons, don’t get distracted by the critics in the mob and stay focused on your goals. The hawk wasn’t surprised by the mob of crows nor did he let them knock him off course. He stayed focused on doing his thing, knowing the crows would eventually get tired or bored and leave him alone. When you chose to be a leader, you chose to step apart from the crowd. You will be second-guessed and criticized, and with that will come lots of distractions. Stay focused on being a hawk and don’t worry about the crows.
  5. Rise above the mob—Ultimately the hawk flew high above and out of reach of the annoying crows. Leaders have to do the same when mobbed by their critics. I like the philosophy articulated by former First Lady Michelle Obama in response to how they tried to teach their young children to deal with the harsh criticism of her husband’s presidency: “…when they go low, we go high.” Leaders need to take the high road when responding to criticism—consider the source, learn from it what you can, and respond with integrity and decency. Keep soaring to greater heights and don’t get dragged down with the crows.

Now, being a hawk doesn’t necessarily make one a leader, just as being a crow doesn’t automatically condemn one to be an annoying pest. It just so happens I observed one hawk being mobbed by three crows, and out of that interaction drew five leadership principles. I’ll leave it up to you to determine if you’re a hawk, crow, or some other creature that represents your inner leadership spirit animal. Whatever you decide, follow these leadership lessons to rise above the inevitable mobs that will criticize and undermine your leadership and soar to the success you deserve.

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Engage 2019: Get More Into Your Work to Get More Out of Your Work

Do you know how to fully engage with your work so that both you and others fully experience all the benefits of your labor?

In 2019, I am devoted to helping educate others to get more into their work to get more out of their work. If you or your organization would like to learn more to fully engage please take the next moment to contact me: david@davidzinger.com. We can discuss possibilities around coaching, keynotes, workshops, or internal consulting.

Engage along with me, our best is yet to be.

Good work requires more than sheer effort, it requires knowledge and skills. It require an acuity to the moment and recognizing each moment invites us to engage with the work in front of us. It means embedding our moments within a bigger story as we string or stack moments for a momentous career.

I decided to make a video to sum up my 25,000 hours devoted to work engagement, personal engagement, leadership engagement, and employee engagement.

Below is my 23 minute 56 second video that was done in just one-take to share with you the future of engagement in 2019 and what I believe about the power of moments in igniting, enhancing, and build work engagement.

Below you will find the key points from the video.

If you prefer a wonderful and colorful PDF document containing these key points, click here.

The Portara

Here are the key points from Engage the Moment:

  • The
    secret: We are looking in the wrong place to improve employee engagement.
  • Engagement
    is to be found in the moment and moments are the fundamental building blocks of
    engagement.
  • There
    is no stress in the present moment.
  • When
    we fully engage, we are also enhancing our wellbeing and lowering our stress.
  • Ask
    yourself this great time management question: What is the best use of my time
    right now?
  • Drivers
    and levers are poor fit concepts to explain a personal responsibility for
    engagement approach.
  • Engagement
    is an invitation.
  • Engagement
    can be defined in 8 simple words: good work done well with others every day.
  • Trying
    to achieve and proclaim Great Work often isn’t so great.
  • The
    way to achieve great work is to do good work every day.
  • Good
    work can literally make us well.
  • We
    are responsible for engagement while we influence others’ engagement.
  • Some
    of us are more engaged with our smart phones than the tasks and relationships
    right in front of us.
  • Can
    you treat engagement as well as you treat your smart phone?
  • Do
    you charge both your smart phone and yourself up every night?
  • An
    excellent engagement trigger is after you use your phone to ask yourself: What
    can I do right now to improve engagement for myself of someone else in the
    organization?
  • Engagement
    is not about PowerPoints and survey results it is about actions and
    interactions. There is no way to engagement, to engage is the way.
  • Four
    focuses for engagement are ABCD: Achieve results | Build relationships | Cultivate
    wellbeing | Develop career
  • Attach
    your moments and small actions to the bigger story or strategy of your
    organization.
  • Add
    spice to moments so that you focus on results: keep asking yourself and others
    “what you want, what you really, really want.”
  • Engagement
    is not an extra it is the core of work.
  • Prevent
    iatrogenic disengagement – our attempts to engage employees that instead end up
    disengaging employees.
  • Anonymity
    can be a killer of engagement yet we rely on anonymous surveys.
  • Disengagement
    should not be a punishable offence it should trigger dialogue, conversation, and
    connection or re-connection.
  • Engagement
    is the diamond in the heart of work and wellbeing
  • Engagement
    is not something we do to people or for people it is something we do with
    people.
  • To
    get everyone on the same page, follow the Positive Deviancy dictum: never do anything about me without me.
  • Determine
    your Engagement Zone or E-zone: How long can you stay engaged.
  • David’s
    fine-tuned E-zone if eleven minutes and eleven seconds.
  • David
    offers 3 suggestions on how to determine the length and efficacy of your
    personal E-zone.
  • We
    have 20,000 possible moments every day.
  • When
    will you turn engagement around? How about the next moment?
  • Recognize
    or support someone else at work right now.
  • Study
    the academic focus on work engagement by Arnold Bakker and others to infuse
    work with vigor, absorption, and dedication.
  • Learn
    why snakes and ladders is such a vital metaphor for engagement at work.
  • A
    powerful leadership question to ask in many situations: What stood out for you?
  • Prevent
    and manage setbacks — can you make a ladder out of snakes?
  • Study
    John Gottman’s relationship moments composed of bids and turns.
  • Bids
    and turns are very predictive of engagement and relationships.
  • Make
    lots of bids and keep turning towards others.
  • Engagement
    thrives on strong relationships, good friends, and effective connections.
  • High
    quality connections occurring in the moments of time between people is a huge
    source of personal and organizational energy.
  • There
    is no secret in engagement. The real requirement is to step up to, and into,
    the moment of engagement.
  • Mindfulness
    is related to personal engagement.
  • Authentic,
    powerful, personal engagement is only a moment away.
  • What
    are you going to do in the next moment?
  • Keep
    on asking: what can I do right now to improve engagement for myself or someone
    else in our organization? Turn your answer into an action or interaction that
    contributes to achieving results, building relationships, cultivating career,
    and developing career.

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The 3 Types of People, Projects, or Tasks You Need to Prune in 2019

At this very moment on the cusp of a new year, you have people, projects, or tasks you need to eliminate from your life. Maybe you’ve been dealing with a troubling employee situation for months, or even years, and despite your best efforts you don’t see any hope for improvement. Or maybe it’s a project that got off track months ago, but no one, particularly you, wants to admit it’s a failure and a new strategy is needed. Perhaps it’s a particular task or process you’ve maintained for years because “that’s the way it’s always been done,” but you have an inkling that if you stopped doing it tomorrow, no one would notice or care.

If this resonates with you, then it’s time for some pruning.. The core definition of pruning is to remove anything considered superfluous or undesirable. As Dr. Henry Cloud points out in his book, Necessary Endings, the areas of business and life that require your limited resources—your time, energy, talent, emotions, money—but aren’t achieving the vision you have for them, should be regularly pruned in order to reach their full potential.

Consider the cultivation of a prized rosebush to understand the purpose of pruning. The gardener removes branches or buds that fall into any of three categories:

  1. Healthy buds or branches that are not the best ones,
  2. Sick branches that are not going to get well, and
  3. Dead branches that are taking up space needed for the healthy ones to thrive.

These three categories of pruning apply to the types of people, projects, and tasks you are dealing with right now.

Type 1 – The Good Detracting from the Great

The rosebush produces more growth than the plant can optimally sustain. The plant has only so much life and energy to power its development, so the gardener trims what may be healthy, yet average blooms, so the plant can direct its resources to the best producing roses. The good roses, if left alone, will suck life away from the great roses. The result? A rosebush with average blooms performing below its potential.

What people, projects, or tasks are you involved with that, although good in and of themselves, are taking time and resources away from achieving greatness with your team or organization? There is no shortage of things demanding your attention, so the key is to prune your priorities down to the most essential ones that fuel the majority of your success.

Type 2 – The Sick That Can’t be Cured

Some branches in a rosebush become diseased and have to be removed to protect the health of the entire plant. When the caretaker notices a sick branch, he will spend some time trying to nurse it back to health. At some point in time the caretaker will reach a decision to prune the branch because he realizes that no amount of water, fertilizer, or care is going to heal the branch. Sick branches take energy from the rosebush, and pruning these sick branches allows the bush to direct more energy to the healthy ones.

You have people, projects, and tasks that are diseased and need to be removed. You have fertilized them, watered them, nurtured them, and done everything in your power to help cure them. For whatever reason, they aren’t getting better and they’re only taking time and energy away from the healthy things you need to focus on. This can be one of the toughest decisions a leader has to face. It might mean confronting the difficult truth that a key company initiative isn’t working as intended, or a long-term employee isn’t able to improve his performance to meet the needs of the organization. On the plus side, it is liberating to admit things aren’t working and changes need to be made because it frees up time, energy, and resources to focus on areas of new growth.

Type 3 – The Dead Preventing Growth of the Living

The third type of pruning is removing dead branches in order to make more room for the living branches to grow. If the dead branches aren’t removed, the path of the living branches will be obstructed and limited. The living branches need room to spread in order to reach their full potential and the dead branches impede that growth.

You have dead branches in your business and personal life that need to be removed if you want to reach your full potential. It might be misguided organizational strategies that served your company well ten years ago but are no longer relevant. Or maybe it’s processes, systems, or meetings you engage in but don’t add any value to the purpose you’re trying to achieve. If it’s dead and just taking up space, get rid of it. It’s time to cut that branch.

Prune with a Purpose

The gardener doesn’t prune willy-nilly, just clipping branches and blooms here and there without discretion. The gardener has a purpose. He knows what a healthy rosebush should look like and he prunes toward that standard. It illustrates the importance of having clear goals and expectations for your organization, your people, and yourself. Without clear goals and standards, you don’t have an objective measure by which to prune and you handicap yourself from reaching your full potential in 2019.

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Engage: Peace of Mind or Piece of Mind

Here is a little bit of Christmas cheer from my good friend John Junson who has now completed 601 cartoons on work and engagement.

Cartoon 601 from John Junson

If you are looking for cartoons of customized cartoons for your work I highly recommend John. His work just keeps getting better and better.

To see a ton of samples do an image search with this phrase: ‘John Junson today at work’. Here is a screen shot of what you’ll uncover:

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What we can do as organizations to alleviate or prevent Burnout

Resilience should not be a cover up for work that causes burnout.

Understanding burnout can teach us a lot about work.

Are your 7 needs at work being met?

The need for (1) autonomy (2) belonging (3) competence (4) positive emotions (5) psychological safety (6) fairness, and (7) meaning?

For over 36 years, I have appreciated and been influenced by the work and research of Christina Maslach on burnout. I credit her work, specifically her book – Burnout: The Cost of Caring – for keeping my love of work alive and preventing a permanent hardening of my human heart. Her presentation in 2018 on burnout may not be slick or even riveting but it is solid and certainly essential. Not everything we need for good work has to glitter and be under 2 minutes.

The presentation may help you prevent burnout, understand burnout if you have experienced it, or engage in small steps to co-create a better workplace for all.



 

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One Simple Method for Achieving Your Goals in 2019

Goals 2019

credit: Flickr-Marco Verch (cc)

Let me go out on a limb here. You’re probably reading this article because you’re contemplating resolutions you’re going to set for the New Year, right? You don’t have much confidence in keeping your resolutions because you’ve failed repeatedly in the past (surveys show only 8% of people keep their resolutions), so you’re looking for some game-changing advice.

Or maybe you’re thinking about the goals you’ve set for your team or organization and you’re stressed out about how you’re going to actually achieve them. If your experience is similar to mine, you’ve set goals for the year only to look back twelve months later to realize what you accomplished bears little resemblance to what you set out to do. For most of us the challenge is not in setting goals. I mean, we’ve got a ton of projects and priorities on our plates. We’ve got goals aplenty! The difficulty lies in prioritizing goals and staying on track to get them accomplished.

There’s a better way to work toward achieving your goals and it’s called the Six by Six Plan – the six most important priorities you need to accomplish over the next six weeks. It’s a method of goal prioritization and execution I learned from Bill Hybels.

It starts with asking yourself one critically important and fundamental question: What is the greatest contribution I can make to my team/organization in the next six weeks?

In answering that question, consider the decisions, initiatives, or activities for which only you can provide the energy and direction. You will likely generate dozens of items on your list that will need to be whittled down to the six that require you to take the lead in order to deliver the most impact.

There is nothing magical in having six priorities over six weeks. What’s important is having a manageable number of goals to accomplish over a relatively short time period. It needs to be a few goals that allow you to keep your energy high and a short enough time period that creates a sense of urgency. Setting big, broad goals for the year is like running a marathon. It’s too tempting to get overwhelmed, distracted, or lose energy on goals that seem so distant. It’s much easier to run a series of sprints by focusing on just a few key priorities for a short amount of time.

I think it’s important to emphasize the 6×6 method is a helpful tool for goal prioritization and execution. It’s not a way to set goals, which is an art and science unto itself. Check out this YouTube video of Bill Hybels describing the Six by Six Plan. Hopefully you’ll find it as helpful as I did.

 

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Want a Culture of Trust and Engagement? Get Back to Human

Technology and social media has allowed us to be more connected than ever before, yet our society is suffering from an epidemic of loneliness. How is that?

Our technological tools have allowed us to be more collaborative, increase efficiencies, powered innovation, and allowed us to tap into information and knowledge at record speeds and levels. At the same time, those devices and technologies have given rise to a collective sense of distraction among its users, provided constant interruption, and replaced strong relational bonds with weak ties. It has also contributed to record levels of disengagement and low trust in the workplace.

In his newest book, Back to Human—How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation, Dan Schawbel details how technology is isolating us at work, and he provides a road map for how we can develop more human-focused workplaces by fostering connected relationships on a personal, team, and organizational level.

In order to develop a connected and engaged workforce, Schawbel recommends leaders focus on four factors: happiness, belonging, purpose, and trust. Research has shown that employees who consider themselves happy at work are more likely to refer new candidates to the company, brag about the organization online, work harder, and are less likely to jump ship. Schawbel cites the research by Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, who found that happy employees have an average of 31% higher productivity, 37% higher sales, and are three times more creative. Simple acts of kindness, getting to know employees on a personal level, and helping employees with work-life balance are all ways to increase happiness.

Engaged employees also feel a sense of belonging to the organization. Humans are pack animals, and we like to be affiliated with organizations that appreciate our contributions and share our sense of values. So often we get focused on strategies and goals that we forget to develop a sense of community in our workplace. Studies have shown that when employees feel a lack of belonging, depression is more common, problem-solving skills deteriorate, and effectiveness on the job declines. Schawbel says leaders can foster belonging by scheduling social events, having team lunches, and creating an environment where people feel free to share information about their personal lives.

Purpose is the third element of engagement that Schawbel suggests leaders focus on. When you have a purpose, you feel that you matter and that you are contributing to something larger than yourself. Having a clear purpose provides energy and direction, and it’s the fuel that keeps you going when life is busy and challenging. The tips Schawbel offers for creating purpose include helping people connect their work to the benefit it provides your customers. Bring in a customer who has been personally affected by your team’s work so they can hear and see the difference they are making. Another strategy for creating purpose is help employees understand the why of their work and how it supports your organization, customers, or the world at large.

Finally, the fourth element of an engaged workforce is trust. Many leaders think by virtue of them being the boss they are trusted by their employees. Wrong. It’s not the employee’s job to give trust; it’s the leader’s to earn it. Establishing authentic, caring, and appropriately vulnerable relationships is a primary way leaders build trust with their team. You can be a technical genius at your job, honest as the day is long, and follow-through on your commitments every time, but if you don’t show any sense of personal care or connection with your team, they will always keep you at arm’s length. Trusted leaders behave in ways that demonstrate the four elements of trust, and when employees see their leaders have their best interests in mind, they will not only trust them, but will pledge their loyalty and commitment as well.

Schawbel makes the point that technology isn’t all bad, but we should be more human and less machine. If we want a workplace where people engage their hearts and minds, and trust their peers and leaders, then we need to leverage technology to develop more human relationships of substance rather than connections of convenience.

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10 Signs You’re Leading From the Rear View Mirror

rear-view-mirror

As I drove home recently, the freeway transitioned into a city road and I eased up behind a gentleman in a black Mercedes. He immediately slowed down significantly below the speed limit in a not so subtle attempt to tell me he didn’t want me following too close behind. I slowed down, all the while observing him eyeballing me through his rear-view mirror. Still not satisfied with the distance between our cars, he continued to pump his brakes and slowed down even more, to the point of holding up traffic several cars deep. Continuing to drive significantly below the speed limit, the grumpy Mercedes driver kept his attention focused on the rear-view mirror instead of watching the road up ahead. I switched lanes to pass Mr. Grumpy Pants and watched him as I drove by. He never took his eyes off the rear-view mirror as he proceeded to do the same thing to the next driver who moved up behind him.

The grumpy Mercedes driver got me thinking about how easy it is to lead by looking through the rear-view mirror instead of the front windshield. What I mean by that is we can get so focused on what’s happened behind us that we forget to look forward to the opportunities ahead of us. Here are 10 signs you may be suffering from rear-view mirror leadership:

1. Your natural response to change is “That’s not how we do it around here.” Change brings out interesting behaviors in people. I’ve found most people don’t mind change as long as it’s their idea, they’re in control of it, and it benefits them in some way. But most of the time, though, change is thrust upon us in one way or another and we have to deal with it. Rear-view mirror leaders usually fixate on what they’re going to lose as a result of a change and they expend all their effort in trying to prevent or minimize the impact. Forward-looking leaders search for the opportunities of growth and improvement that will result from change. It’s our choice as to how we respond.

2. Things are never as good as “back in the day.” I’m a nostalgic person by nature and am susceptible to this attitude or line of thinking. However, I’ve learned by experience that the past is a fun place to visit but it’s a bad place to live. Nothing new ever happens in the past. There’s no growth, improvement, or change. Our jobs, organizations, and industries are not the same as they were 20 years ago. We have to stay relevant with the times, personally and organizationally, or risk becoming relics of the past.

3. You’re pessimistic about the future. Sometimes it’s hard to be optimistic about the future, especially in today’s day and age. If your outlook on the future is dependent upon the performance of the stock market or the headline news, then you’re in trouble. The best leaders are dealers of hope. They maintain an optimistic view of the future, keeping focused on their purpose and core values, and putting forth a vision that encourages and energizes their team.

4. You’re focused on maintaining status quo. I’m not one to make a big stink about the difference between leadership and management. Leaders have to manage and managers have to lead. But there is one key difference that I think is worth noting—leaders initiate change whereas managers focus on maintaining or improving the status quo. Status quo leadership is often about looking in the rear-view mirror, making sure everything occurred exactly as planned. Forward-looking leadership involves surveying the open road and charting a course to move the team to its next destination. There will be occasional wrong turns, rerouting the course, and asking for directions. It will get messy and chaotic at times. But it will never be status quo.

5. You micromanage. Micro-managers tend to not trust people. Since trust involves risk, micro-managers default to using controlling behaviors to minimize their dependency on others. They want to maintain power so they hoard information, don’t involve others, and make all decisions of any consequence. Micro-managers tend to believe they know what’s best and will act in ways to keep themselves in the center of any conversation, meeting, or activities in order to exert their influence.

6. You spend more time assigning blame and making excuses than focusing on what you can control. Rear-view leaders are consumed with what others are doing or not doing, and almost always believe their lack of success is a result of factors outside their control. “If only Marketing would have provided us with the right kind of collateral that appealed to our clients…,” or “If Operations hadn’t delayed in getting that order into production…,” and “Customer Service does a horrible job at client retention…” are the kinds of blaming statements or excuses you often hear from rear-view leaders. Proactive leaders understand there will always be factors outside their control, so they spend their energy focusing on what they can influence and trust their colleagues to do the same.

7. You wait for someone to tell you what to do instead of taking the initiative. Failure to take initiative is a symptom of rear-view mirror leadership. Because rear-view mirror leaders are focused on the past, what others are doing or not doing, or focused on maintaining the status-quo, they are often caught watching from the sidelines when they should be actively involved in the game. Do you find yourself surprised by decisions that get made? Find yourself out of the information loop about what’s happening around you? If so, you might be sitting around waiting for someone to tell you what to do instead of taking the initiative. Find a need, meet a need. See a problem, fix a problem. That’s what forward-thinking leaders do.

8. You have a graveyard of relationships that are “dead to you.” It’s easy to run over people when you’re not looking where you’re going. Precisely because they’ve been leading by looking in the rear-view mirror, these kinds of leaders have often neglected to invest in relationships across the organization. They have “written off” people for one reason or another, usually in an attempt to exert power and influence to preserve their position and authority.

9. A lack of possibility thinking. If your first response to new ideas is to find all the ways it won’t work, you’re a rear-view mirror leader. Critical thinking and risk mitigation is necessary when considering a new concept, but if the ideas that come your way never make it past the initial sniff test, then you may be shutting yourself off to new possibilities. Instead of shooting holes in the ideas your team brings to you, try responding with this question: “How could we make this work?” You may be surprised at how much energy and passion it unleashes in your team.

10. You have an “us vs. them” mentality. Do you say “we” or “they” when referring to your organization and its leadership? Whether it’s done consciously or subconsciously, rear-view mirror leaders tend to disassociate themselves from the decisions and actions of their fellow leaders. Being a leader, particularly a senior or high-level one, means you represent the entire organization, not just your particular team. You should own the decisions and strategies of your organization by phrasing statements like “We have decided…” rather than “They have decided…” because it shows your team that you are personally invested and committed to your organization’s plans.

The grumpy Mercedes driver couldn’t see he had a wide-open road ahead of him to enjoy because he was too focused on what others were doing behind him. Don’t make the same mistake as a leader. If any of these ten signs ring true, you may be spending more time leading by looking through the rear-view mirror instead of the front windshield.

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Join me at the Eclectic and Exciting Free HR Virtual Summit – Thursday November 8

I am so pleased to be part of such a great and eclectic group of speakers at the HR Virtual Summit #HRVirtual18 on Thursday November 8th. Look below to see the amazing groups of speakers, titles, and topics.

My session is at 12PM Pacific Time. To register for my session or any of the sessions below visit: https://www.bamboohr.com/virtual/?utm_source=Ev-DZinge–HRVirtSum18

Keynote: Ben Peterson — 3 Steps to More Influential HR

8:30 PT

Jon Wolske

Culture and Service – How to WOW in all directions

Kimberly Jones

Be a Talent Acquisition Superhero

Leela Srinivasan

EX meets CX: The Rising Partnership between HR and Marketing

Dana Brownlee

The Unwritten Rules of Managing Up: Surviving (and Thriving) the “Difficult Boss”

Bindu Lokre

Consciously Unbiased

Katrina Kibben

How to Write Better Job Descriptions

Dr. Tanvi Gautam

Narrative as a Powerful Tool for Digital Transformation

Toni Thompson

Culture Adds: Attracting the Best Talent with Your Employer Brand

9:00 PT

Kevin Kruse

AI for Manager Training: Lessons Learned Building a Leadership Coach with IBM Watson

Dean Pichee

Changes, Challenges and Choices: The Future of Workplace Learning

Stephanie Angelo

Mastering Intentional Strategic Thinking Skills for Maximum Impact in Your Organization

Michael Bungay Stanier

The Five Real Reasons Managers Don’t Coach

Sonya Sepahban

Workplace Diversity and Inclusion: Raise the Bar with a System Approach

Costa Michailidis

How Creative Problem Solvers Save the World

Jack Altman

Performance & Engagement. Better Together

Cassie Whitlock

Culture + Total Rewards = Winning EVP

9:30 PT

Keynote:  Adam Grant — How to Navigate a Culture of Diverse Thinkers

10:00 PT

Len Strazza & Andrew Norton

The Importance of Getting New Hires Ramped Up Quickly

Josh Tolan

How To Supercharge Your Hiring with Video Interviews

Keri Ohlrich

Be an HR Warrior

Dr. Susan O’Malley

Three Leadership Lessons from an Emergency Room Doctor

Kelly Charles-Collins

Out of Many, One Workforce: How Diversity & Inclusion Unlocks Innovation and Drives Market Growth

Lydia Frank

2018 Compensation Best Report Findings

Ryan Sanders

Caring for the Whole Employee

Julie Ann Sullivan

Catalysts of Culture – Visionary Leaders Activating the Employee Experience

10:30 PT

Aaron Huang

4 Tips to Scaling Employee Communication in the Modern Tech-Enabled Workforce

Leah Brown

Staying Power: How to Keep your Employees Longer

Tina Robinson

Technology is not the ONLY Solution: Bust the Myths about HR Technology that Keep HR Transactional, Disempowered, and Longing for Radical Transformation

Margaret Spence

We Need You to Lead Us: Radically Transforming Your Approach to Developing Women Leaders

Jason Shen

Using Case Studies and Take Home Projects to Reduce Bias in Hiring and Recruit Diverse High Performers

Stella Grizont

How to Master Difficult Conversations at Work

Amanda Haddaway

Your Employees Hate Your Performance Review: Here’s What to Do About It

Julie Jeannotte

How to Build an HR Team People Actually Want to Come To

11:00 PT

Keynote:  Julie Coucoules — The Evolution of Modern Recruiters

11:30 PT

Graden Hudson

Using Communication Apps to Engage Employees

Maisha Cannon

Strengthen Your Sourcing with 3 Simple Strategies

Amy Gallo

4 Steps to Decide How to Handle a Conflict

Lori Kleiman

Lets Talk Leadership: 5 Steps to Making an Impact

Stacey Gordon

Inclusionomics: The Cost of Unconscious Bias

Erica Pepe

I Usually Never Respond to These

Neil McKinnon

Embracing the (Virtual) Reality

Srinivas Rao

Designing Your Environments to Increase Your Productivity and Creativity

12:00 PT

David Zinger

Engage the Moment: How You Can Make the Most of Moments at Work for Yourself and your Organization

Kuba Kucharski

Refactoring Tech Recruitment: Tips From an Engineering Leader

Liz Weber

Become the Strategic Business Partner Your Organization Needs!

Dawn Cacciotti

Strategic HR Leadership: Yielding Positive Business Results

Simone Morris

Don’t Ignore me: How to be All-Inclusive when Building Relationships

Tracy Stuckrath

Discrimination in the Workplace: What’s Food & Beverage Got to Do with It?

Jamison West

Nurturing Purpose Through Performance Development

Dan Schawbel

Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation

12:30 PT

Keynote:  Julian Treasure – How to Create a Listening Organisation

Keynote:  Johnny Taylor – Writing our Own Future

1:00 PT

Dr. Erika Tierney Garms

Building Brain-Friendly Workplaces

Amy Berman

Achieve Your HR Goals and Grow Your Business By Leveraging AI, Text Message, and Live Chat

Liane Davey

The Good Fight: Productive Conflict in Day-to-Day Business

Dr. Marcia Reynolds

Building a Coaching Culture

Jose Velasco

SAP Autism at Work

James Lord & Rick Palaia

Transitioning Candidates to Employees: How to Maintain a Positive Experience

Robert St-Jacques

Uncovering the ROI of Your Performance Management Program

Rich Fernandez

A Future-Ready Mind: Useful Mental Habits for an Age of Uncertainty, Complexity, and Disruption

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Research Shows These Are The Top 5 Characteristics of Servant Leaders

In their academic paper Identifying Primary Characteristics of Servant Leadership, researchers Adam Focht and Michael Ponton share the results of a Delphi study they conducted with scholars in the field of servant leadership.

A total of twelve characteristics were identified, five of which were agreed upon by all of the scholars polled. These five most prominent servant leadership characteristics were:

  1. Valuing People. Servant leaders value people for who they are, not just for what they give to the organization. Servant leaders are committed first and foremost to people—particularly, their followers.
  2. Humility. Servant leaders do not promote themselves; they put other people first. They are actually humble, not humble as an act. Servant leaders know leadership is not all about them—things are accomplished through others.
  3. Listening. Servant leaders listen receptively and non-judgmentally. They are willing to listen because they truly want to learn from other people—and to understand the people they serve, they must listen deeply. Servant leaders seek first to understand, and then to be understood. This discernment enables the servant leader to know when their service is needed.
  4. Trust. Servant leaders give trust to others. They willingly take this risk for the people they serve. Servant leaders are trusted because they are authentic and dependable.
  5. Caring. Servant leaders have people and purpose in their heart. They display a kindness and concern for others. As the term servant leadership implies, servant leaders are here to serve, not to be served. Servant leaders truly care for the people they serve.

To a large degree, these findings mimic the results of polling that The Ken Blanchard Companies conducted with 130 leadership, learning, and talent development professionals who attended a series of servant leadership executive briefings in cities across North America in 2018. Topping the list was empathy, closely followed by selflessness and humility. Also mentioned multiple times were being authentic, caring, collaborative, compassionate, honest, open-minded, patient, and self-aware.

Both lists can serve as good starting points for HR and L&D executives looking to bring an others-focused culture into their organizations. What’s been your experience?  Feel free to enter additional characteristics of a servant leader in the comments section below.


Interested in learning more about bringing servant leadership principles into your organization? Join us for a free webinar on November 15!

Dr. Vicki Halsey, vice president of applied learning for The Ken Blanchard Companies and author of Brilliance By Design, will conduct a presentation for leadership, learning, and talent development professionals on 3 Keys to Building a Servant Leadership Curriculum.

In this enlightening webinar, Dr. Halsey will connect servant leadership characteristics to competencies and share best practices on how to design a comprehensive curriculum for your organization. You can learn more here. The event is free, courtesy of The Ken Blanchard Companies.

This article was written by my colleague David Witt and originally appeared on LeaderChat.org.

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