Category Archives: Leadership

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idea celebration

Idea Celebration Is Better Than Squashing

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Idea celebration is one way to elevate the good stuff to the priority list. What are you or your team doing with new ideas?

At the start of the brainstorming meeting, someone suggests that no idea is a bad idea. When the chips are down and the next path is hard to locate, you search. If the competition rises up and puts a stake in some new ground you wonder why you didn’t think of it first.

What happens in your team with new ideas?

Idea Celebration

It seems like finding the reasons why it won’t work is the mission objective for some. Every idea is quickly met with the discussion of catastrophes from the past and a clever pitch about the connections to this new suggestion.

Problems are often managed in a similar fashion. For some, it feels more exciting to drown over the impacts of failure rather than spend energy on the possibility of a viable solution.

Solutions are not always perfect. New ideas are not without risk.

What if at the start of the brainstorming meeting there is a focus on celebrating every new idea?

The idea doesn’t always be put to the test at the first whimper of its mention. Perhaps let it simmer for a while, allow it to occupy some space, and consider why it will work instead of why it won’t.

New ideas often gain traction, or they don’t, based on belief.

The group dynamics of belief are powerful. They often grow over time. Some will grow in the spirit of support. Some will grow in the spirit of being against.

Fence-sitters often wait to jump in. They often weigh the risk as being greater for likability than the merit of the idea itself.

Maybe it is time to stop looking for why not and start supporting something different.

It may be an idea worth celebrating.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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tough tasks

Tough Tasks Actually Give You More

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Do you struggle with the tough tasks? Have you ever wondered why the tough work comes your way while the seemingly easy stuff goes another?

While perception and expectations always condition your view, tough tasks may be what you should seek more of.

Just about anyone can sweep the floor. The same is true for using mainstream software tools or turning a screwdriver.

That’s the easy stuff.

It’s easy to find a burger and fries joint. A great gourmet restaurant is a little bit more difficult.

An attorney’s office is just around the corner. One that is considered the best, well, that is a little more challenging.

Do you have a great idea? You may not be alone. Even the patent for the first telephone was filed by two different people in two different places on the same day.

If everything was easy, everyone would be doing it. There wouldn’t be value for those who do more.

Tough Tasks

The boss often delegates the toughest assignments to the employee who can handle the most.

Is this a disadvantage? Is it punishment for doing great work?

Everything that is easy has a low cost. It is available everywhere, it’s a commodity.

It is true for people and it is true for products or services.

Doing the tough stuff has value. It is important work. Work that will get you noticed. This is what every employer seeks to find more of. It is exactly why they delegate the tough stuff to the best people.

Getting the tough stuff isn’t a punishment. It is a reward.

It is a reward because it means that others cannot rise to the challenge. They don’t have your skills, your knowledge, and your expertise.

Perhaps they aren’t as dedicated as you are.

Great Value

Doing the tough stuff gives you more value.

It is valuable when the promotion opportunity arises.

There is value if economic cutbacks occur.

One way or another, tough tasks give you more.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace wait

Workplace Wait and the Consequences that Follow

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Have you experienced workplace wait? It’s when someone or everyone wants to follow a plan but they are waiting for something else to happen first.

We’re going to improve sales, as soon as we get a new sales manager.

Our quality is off, but next year we’re getting some new equipment.

We need to fix this, but let’s wait until the meeting next week to discuss how.

It happens all the time. You often forget that the period of wait has a price. And like it or not, the organization, the employees, and the customers are paying.

When the organization pays, everyone loses.

Perhaps in some cases, the cost is pushed to the customer. When the customer pays and the value is not recognized, eventually, the organization loses.

Enough pressure on the organization and the employees lose.

What are you waiting for?

Workplace Wait

Opportunity cost matters, everyone gets it. There are also costs associated with trust and value for the customer.

Are there team trust issues?

Join our team, next year you’ll get a promotion.

As soon as we close two more deals, we’re going to buy everyone a new laptop to improve productivity.

We know the shipping department is in shambles but there is nothing we can do until sales improve.

The wait is sometimes really just a stall. It puts a blanket over the problem, covers things up, and creates a future based largely on hope.

Hope often has a timeline. Left unchecked and the people begin to lose trust.

What are your plans?

Future Plans

Planning for the future matters. Forecasting future revenue, customers, and growth help build energy and excitement.

The future comes fast. There are expectations. Missed goals or shifting timelines can delay the forecast.

Sometimes people begin to feel like they’re waiting for nothing. It is a balancing act. A tight rope. Navigation is tricky. Trust and belief wane.

What is the cost of now?

The cost of now is sometimes less expensive than the cost waiting.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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compelling leaders

Compelling Leaders Are Better Communicators

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What creates leaders? What creates followers? Do compelling leaders create better followers?

What does it mean to be a leader?

What is leadership?

Two questions that I often ask when helping teams build foundational skills for leadership.

We don’t always stop to think about it and people attempt to connect the dots of leadership with the concept of formal authority. The formal authority suggests that you’ve moved to the position of supervisor, manager, or director.

Formal authority matters. Yet, leadership is about so much more.

Formal authority is often granted to people with the highest credential, the person or persons who have been around the longest, or the ones that demonstrate great depth in technical skills.

Leadership is expected to ensue.

Does it?

Not always.

Are They Communicators?

There are terms often thrown around to indicate people who are compelling.

You can consider phrases like, “street smarts,” or “used car salesman.” Both of these are often quickly identified with someone who can navigate people situations with clever grace.

They create buy-in or can sell beach front property in South Dakota.

They are well skilled in persuasive communication. Most of their skill is developed informally, not through conventional education but through trial and error. They’re observers and they’ve learned what works and what doesn’t.

It is not so much natural as it is a learned skill.

They’ve developed communication skills that allow them to be convincing and compelling.

Compelling Leaders

Every once-in-a-while we encounter a compelling leader.

The compelling leader has a large tool box. He or she can stand toe-to-toe with the formal leaders, and can also create a strong following.

People rarely follow because they are told to do so. People follow because they are compelled to do so.

There is a phrase, a meme of sorts, “Great leaders don’t develop a belief in the leader, they develop a belief in the follower.”

The best news for any leader, formal or otherwise, is that the act of creating a compelling message is a learned skill. Being a great leader is an option. It’s not an appointed position.

Compelling leaders are great learners.

And great communicators.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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stopping pain

Stopping Pain Always Directs What Happens Next

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You may not even realize it, yet it is part of the goal. Stopping pain is what businesses do for their customers. They do it internally for the greater good of the organization, and if they’re really generous they do for their community too.

What are the problems?

They are the areas of pain. Often, they reoccur, stop the flow, and make managers and the CEO lose sleep.

The customer purchase is likely connected to an emotional choice. Rooted deep in their decision there are often some pain points. Even when the product or service delights there is almost always room for more.

New features, bugs fixed, or a problem solved.

The goal for most productive things in business then might be classified as stopping the pain.

How would you stop the pain? A miracle drug? An underground top-secret cure?

Stopping Pain

You can start by asking the right questions.

What keeps you up at night? (an oldie but a goodie)

What would make you use this product more?

Does it help you achieve your goals?

Stopping pain is your first priority. It what makes dreams come true. It builds success and shares in the process of what you tell yourself about what comes next.

You may also want to understand how it helps others. How it might change the outlook for families, financial futures, and make everyone look good.

It’s always connected to emotions and sometimes to social norms. People like to look good, feel smart, and be thrilled.

It is exactly why cost or price should be the last part of the discussion.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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factual conversations

Factual Conversations, Opinions, and Leadership

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Do you have factual conversations? What about in the staff meeting, are facts being presented or more of just opinions?

Effective communication is a highly sought-after skill. One great thing about communication is that even just one person on the team learning to be more effective can help team performance.

Have you considered how you verbally communicate? What about your written word in things like email or text messaging?

Workplace Conversation

Imagine at the start of the staff meeting someone is late. Let’s assume that someone is named Susan.

Suddenly a meeting member blurts out, “Let’s just get started, Susan is always late.”

Always?

Nobody wonders whether is Susan is always late, or just late once in a while. Is always a fact or an opinion?

Multiply this concept to the daily narrative floating around your workplace. How much of the communication is factual?

There is an argument to factual communication. The argument is that it is often not as compelling.

Buy our new product, we recently sold 3 to the first customer.

As compared to:

Buy our new product, it’s selling fast.

Opinions are often disguised as facts when they are delivered in a compelling and impact-oriented manner. In addition, when you prey on the recipient’s emotions it often calls people to action.

Fear is a big seller.

Start using this product today. Act now before we’re sold out.

The fear of course, is that if you don’t buy now, there won’t be any left to purchase.

Factual Conversations

Leading in your workplace environment is always about communication. You are often selling. Whether it is selling your ideas, creating buy-in for a change effort, or selling motivation and inspiration.

One of the biggest underlying challenges of leadership is navigating balance. With everything there is a magical balance.

Are you having factual conversations? What is providing the most impact?

The most impact often exists somewhere in the middle. The exact facts matter and often spark action when communicated in a compelling manner.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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second thoughts

Are Second Thoughts Just Part Of The Decision?

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You’re facing a big decision. You feel like you’ve decided. Suddenly you have some second thoughts. Is this a bad sign?

Some people suggest that there are always second thoughts about the marriage, if not by the couple, by the onlookers.

It is also true for the home buyer, the new car purchase, or while you wait after ordering from the menu.

People often view second thoughts as the beginning of a wrong decision. What if second thoughts are merely part of the process?

You can analyze many different angles about second thoughts. You can bring confidence into the equation and with that comes past experiences or even ignorance. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.

Have you agonized enough? Thought it through, over and over again? Listed the pros and cons, yet still feel uncertainty?

Second Thoughts

Making the best choice often comes down to belief. Do you belief in the path in front of you? For employee teams, do they believe?

One of the greatest challenges of leadership is to develop a belief in the followers. It is not trying to develop a belief in the leader, it is about trying to develop a belief in the follower. Big difference.

Things will always change. A decision to leave your home without an umbrella can turn out the wrong way later within the same day.

When you make decisions in the present, or for the future, you’ve made the best decision you can make.

At that time, at the exact moment, it often is the right decision. Sometimes later, after things have changed, it is easy to suggest it was a poor decision.

Second thoughts shouldn’t always occur. They also shouldn’t always be dismissed.

Second thoughts are often a test that you’re still on the right path.

In life and in business every day is a fluid experience. Things ebb and flow.

Maybe it really means that you’re heading in the right direction.

Keep going.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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mismatched expectations

Mismatched Expectations Will Get You Every Time

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Disconnects in customer service happen all the time. It happens for new hires, and it happens for the project. Mismatched expectations don’t mean that everything is lost.

As a young boy my son always loved my mother’s pot-pie. She had a special home-made recipe of beef pot-pie that seemed like the best comfort food on the planet.

When my son was in his early teenage years, we visited a restaurant and on the menu was pot-pie. Much to my surprise, instead of a burger and french fries my son ordered the pot-pie.

After the meals were brought to the table, I noticed him picking at his dish. He seemed displeased. It wasn’t the pot-pie that his grandmother made. It was a poor imitation.

The restaurant was very popular and served fantastic food, but to him, the dish seemed barely eatable.

Similarly, in high school, I had some friends who loved the boxed macaroni and cheese that their mother often prepared. What they didn’t realize that she often bought a low-priced generic brand. One day she splurged and bought a well-known and popular brand. My friends hated it.

In life, or in food, what you experience is often embraced or rejected based on your previous best experiences.

Have you ever had mismatched expectations?

Mismatched Expectations

It is true for the food you eat. It’s true for the new marketing plan, the process improvement, and even your job.

It is also true for everyone else, only sometimes in the opposite manner.

Often there may be room to compromise, negotiate, or allow for a fluid process. Of course, the level of satisfaction will always be compared to what was the previous best experience or taste.

Thus, the saying, “Those are big shoes to fill.”

Navigating your job, career, or the customer may not always be easy. It is a dance between your best delivery and the expectations of someone else.

When they align, everything feels like the right fit. When they don’t, the impulse is to discard it.

Keep in mind though that the right fit for someone may be the rejected mismatch by another.

Sometimes the best option is just on the other side of your expectations.

The challenge then is breaking the cycle.

It is a test of sorts. A test for the reliability and authenticity of the disambiguation, what you see is what you get.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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leadership balance

Leadership Balance, Find the Middle Ground

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Harmony is typically not found in extremes. Regardless of which end. Leadership balance is where the best results will develop. Are you finding the middle ground?

Too many meetings, or too few?

Too strict and authoritarian or too soft and too lenient?

Are you too congratulatory and appreciative or too subdued and neglectful?

Everything in leadership is about finding the right balance and balance is often hard to achieve.

Culture and Community

In the workplace, the environment and culture are often suggested to be about creating a community. The community works best when everyone can find the right balance.

Unhappy communities often seek a form of asylum. They prefer to retreat, withdraw, or to be left to their own devices.

Differences are more notable and not embraced in unhappy communities. Instead, people feel divided and seek a safe space.

Often, they leave the community. Heads down and defeated they are disconnected and weary, physically, emotionally, or both.

A focus on self, defeats communities and builds an unhealthy culture.

In contrast, a quest for balance is a generous act.

Is there balance in your leadership?

Leadership Balance

Leadership is artful.

There are a few small pockets of people who believe that leaders are born. The educated population largely believes that leadership skill is developed and that great leaders are made.

The toughest challenges of leadership may not be about risk, vision, or processes and systems. The toughest challenge may exist in how leaders choose to set navigational examples, inspire, and build community.

It is a generous dance with balance.

Communities often don’t respond well to force.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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communication bombs

Communication Bombs Are a Short-Run Game

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Do you drop the bad news and run? What about showing the graph in a PowerPoint and creating fear, confusion, or anxiety? Are communication bombs part of your strategy?

It may not always be intentional. In fact, it may be an attempt to increase motivation. The question is, does it work?

What Kind of Motivation?

Make no mistake that fear motivates many people to action. There are a lot of employees going to jobs every day because they fear for the welfare of their family.

In other words, they need a paycheck.

Yet many people wish for something more than just that check.

Certainly, the check matters and means a lot. However, contributing to something, creating something, serving someone, or working as a team has many benefits beyond the paycheck.

In the workplace, motivation through fear is a short-run game. Long term it tends to divide teams. Often it creates an “us versus them” situation. Organizational leaders are on one side, and front-line employees are on the other.

Communication bombs may confuse, frustrate, or simply be a bad tactic for attempting to achieve a result.

Get this finished before the end of the day.

If you disagree, there is the door.

This chart shows last quarter results, another quarter like this and we’ll all be looking for jobs.

Communication bombs. Drop them and run.

Is this effective?

Deploying Communication Bombs

There may be truth in the intent. It may even spark action and accomplish something.

Is it what you desire?

You have a reputation. Your department and team have a reputation. The business or organization you work for also has a reputation.

Reputations are shared. They’re publicized in conversations everyday.

Drop and run is a good way to hide from facing the real issues at hand.

The executive sometimes only wants results. The employee often wants respect and to be part of something more than just their paycheck.

Leadership and culture live or die through communication.

Long-term everyone has choice.

Short-run games end sooner than you think.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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