12 Empowering Things a Team Leader Should Take

Most team leaders spend their time thinking more about empowering people, considering what things they can give people instead of what they could selfishly take.  In fact, I would argue that servant leadership is the most positive, powerful, effective, and inspiring example a manager or coach could provide their team. I’m sure you have heard quotes about the importance of giving…  Benjamin E. Mays is remembered for sharing that “it is not what you keep, but what you give that makes you happy.” Edwin Louis Cole offers a similar belief, suggesting that “the degree of loving is measured by the degree of giving.” And it is true that the act of giving – of your time, your advice, and your encouragement is what quality leadership is largely based upon.   But while a servant leader may have his or her heart in the right place, sometimes a team would benefit more if their leaders would stop GIVING and start TAKING.   So here, now, is a list of the Things a Team Leader Should Take: Take care of your people. Great leaders are quick to praise productive decisions or ideas, and will always look for ways to reward those who are contributing to the team’s success.  By doing so, you will be encouraging future positive behaviors, while building recognition into the fabric of your organizational culture. Take some initiative. People in struggling organizations often suffer from the “wait to be told” syndrome.  The problem is that they soon become followers who need constant supervision and direction, placing the responsibility for their efforts on someone else’s shoulders. The best way...

3 amazingly simple ways to help your team thrive through change

Change is constant.  You can count on it. But you can’t always count on your people to accept it with enthusiasm… The saying goes that everyone wants progress, but very few embrace the change that makes it possible… and so it is likely the same with people on your team. The idea of seeing your team thrive through change instead of enduring it (or sometimes combatting it) may seem like a bit of an idyllic fantasy, but the truth is that it IS possible! There are 3 amazingly simple ways you can smooth the road ahead and create a far more positive expectation and attitude toward the changes your team is experiencing. When you are about to enter (or even already in the midst of) a major change in your company or project, these are the three things you want to do to help your team navigate and enjoy the journey:   Repeat and Clarify the Reason Why Explain what the issue is that necessitates the change.  If everything was going well, it wouldn’t need to be made – so what is the problem that you are trying to solve?  The more they hear the reason for the change, the more willing they will be to help accomplish it.  Repetition is the key to learning – and you need to be sure that everyone on board has heard and understands the decision behind the change.  Say it so often that they begin to mock you for it. Sometimes, if the reason for the change is clarified, winning teammates can offer ideas to assist with ideas to make the change...

Two Questions That Invite Conversation and Eliminate Dissension

Years ago – as a very young teacher – I was in a meeting where our department head introduced a mandatory form each teacher would be required to fill out.  She clearly felt it would be a good idea to have everyone commit to the weekly documentation. The form was to be included in what was then a formal evaluation notebook that would be used to assess our teaching effectiveness.  After introducing it, she asked something like “does that sound okay with you guys?” and then moved on quickly and later ended the meeting without any real debate or discussion. But I really don’t remember much about the meeting.  What I remember most is what happened after I left the meeting.  Ahead of me in the hallway were two more experienced teachers, and they could be heard complaining about and criticizing the idea all the way back to their rooms.  Nobody had asked their thoughts in the meeting, and they were not willing to take the initiative and share it in the open group.  Now, to be clear, Winning teammates speak up in meetings and not just after them… But it is the leader who always sets the table – and great leaders take responsibility for inviting the necessary conversations that lead to alignment and commitment. Regrettably, in many meetings around the country, accepting silence as passive agreement is a landmine that many leaders step on without realizing it. Many leaders continue to talk AT their people instead of WITH their people. And that dictatorial style is dangerous… because leaders who do not encourage disagreement and discussion often move on,...

Three Incredibly Powerful Ways for Leaders to Use the Word IF

The words leaders use have an incredibly powerful impact on their people. As an english teacher, I always emphasized the importance of vocabulary… but there is ONE word that leaders may over look that, when they use it well, can have a tremendous impact on team performance. “IF” is an incredibly powerful word for leaders. Leadership occurs one interaction at a time, and in those conversations it is important for leaders to influence their teams with the proper use of a common and powerful word: “IF.” There are actually three ways for leaders to focus on using the word to improve their team. The first use of IF is for team motivation. Using the phrase “What If…” is a powerful way to ignite imaginations and inspire innovative ideas. Steve Jobs once famously said that “innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”  Innovation is the result of asking “What IF?”  Ask yourself and encourage your teammates to consistently consider possibilities that might improve your systems and culture.  Regardless of the many diverse team members you may be dealing with, everyone is inspired to think more creatively when they consider questions like: What if we did it this way?  What if, instead of __________, we chose to ________? What if we stopped doing __________? Never allow your team to become content with where they are.  By asking “What IF?” you open the door to future innovations and ideas that otherwise may have been missed and motivate your team to invest themselves in possibility thinking.   The second use of IF is for creating a culture of awareness and ownership. It is...

12 Exalting Phrases Good Leaders Share with Their Teams

Leaders have a tremendous impact on their organization, because the phrases they share with their teams can either produce distrust and apathy or ignite passion and commitment. And the reality is that everyone (including YOU) is a leader. What you say to the people that you work with will influence their work ethic and attitude. A good leader will recognize this, and take advantage of every opportunity to be an encouraging and inspiring flame that his people want to be near and benefit from. Yes, HOW you deliver the words are a very important part of your communication… but these exalting phrases ensure that they are fully invested and feel themselves to be a valued and contributing part of something larger and more significant than themselves:   You were right about… Great leaders are quick to praise productive decisions or ideas. It isn’t about who is right, leadership is about deciding what is right. Instead of having to be the fountain of knowledge and wisdom for their organization, strong leadership acknowledges the contributions that the people around them offer — and by doing so, encourage future innovation and give other the gift of recognition.   I’m glad you are here People don’t want to be appreciated… they NEED it. Money may be the reason they took a job, but they will leave that job when they see a chance to get more recognition and feel more valued by their superiors and peers. The simple but powerful (and FREE) action of telling your people that you are glad that they are on YOUR team can be a much more impactful phrase...

Toughness and Resilience are Skills Your Team Can Learn

There is a big difference between brick walls and speed bumps. And I shared this with my son, because I couldn’t teach him to be taller.  At 12 years old, he worked passionately on improving his dribbling and shooting for hours out in our driveway.  But each night he would pray to grow taller – so he could be a better basketball player. And I would tell him (on a few occasions), that height might help, but success is achieved by focusing on and doing the things that you can control. He was 5’2” – and he couldn’t control his height. But after coaching hundreds of athletes and facilitating workshop events for thousands of professionals and teammates in a variety of industries, I knew that he COULD learn to be tougher. Toughness and resilience are skills, just like dribbling or shooting in basketball. And the truth is that, unlike height, resilience can be taught! In my experience, whether it is in basketball or in business, a person’s resilience is based on two things: what you ask yourself and what you see. My son worked hard on improving his skill.  He spent hours alone in the driveway pushing himself through creative drills to get better. But skill without resilience and toughness is like a fighter with a glass jaw. When it is tested by adversity, a glass jaw will shatter. So if my son truly wanted to be a competitor, he needed to focus on more than just technical skills.  He needed to invest time and energy in improving his toughness. And like any other skill, I explained to him that improving...

Two Requirements for a Winning Culture… and Great Guest Experience

One of the most memorable and enjoyable breakfast experiences I’ve had while away on business was speaking with front line team members at the San Diego Marriott Grand Marquis.  I was in town for a speaking event and walked into the hotel restaurant for breakfast, and ended up learning a great deal about what creates a winning culture.  Phyllis was the first person I met, and during our conversation she shared that she had been an employee there for 12 years.  Phyllis had a warm smile and made sure I was settled into the table I wanted and was sincerely interested in making sure I was comfortable.  I asked what kept her at the Marriott for 12 years.  What did she like about working there? She said that “I love working in a beautiful place.” Then she added, “But mostly I love working with people that I adore!”  Phyllis asked for my drink order and then presented the menu to me, and suggested that the buffet was excellent.  I never looked down from her smile, and ordered the buffet. As I walked over toward the buffet I was greeted by an older man in a starched with uniform standing over an omelet bar.  He said “good morning, sir!” to me, and asked if I would like an omelet. Of course, I said yes.  He had a great smile, and his nametag said “Philip.” I asked Phillip how long he had been working here, and his answer surprised me. “26 years, sir!” So I asked him, in a world where most people work an average of 10 different jobs over...

15 Essential Leadership Books to Grow New Leaders

Summer is near.. and that means it is time to find a few leadership books for summer reading… The idea is a simple and accurate one: Readers become leaders. And its converse is an important lesson for those who find themselves in the position to influence and lead others on a team or within an organization: leaders should be readers! As a teamwork speaker and business team building facilitator, I often am asked after an event what I would suggest as the best books for new leaders to read. So below, in no particular order, is a list of books I have recommended – the ones I would argue are the 15 essential leadership books to grow new leaders. Some are well known classics, and others are more recent publications – but if you see one you aren’t familiar with, I’d encourage you to click on it and pick up a copy!   1. Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, by Joseph Grenny and Kerry Patterson This classic book gives you the tools to prepare for high-stakes situations, transform anger and hurt feelings into powerful dialogue, and be persuasive, not abrasive as a communicator.   2. QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, by John G. Miller This is a book that teaches you to change your questions and provides a method for putting personal accountability into daily action, which can bring astonishing results.   3. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie Another classic written decades ago, the book covers timeless truths for engaging people and earning the right to be heard. Simple lessons in emotional intelligence....

Pre-Order The 10 Commandments of Winning Teammates Book!

  Having worked with all kinds of groups – including athletes, doctors, educators, salesmen, construction workers, and IT professionals – one clear truth is that every industry and organization needs winning teammates. Winning teammates are servant leaders.  They are the GLUE that holds teams together… and that keep them focused and performing well. And today I am excited to share with you that my next book, The 10 Commandments of Winning Teammates, will be finished this July! I think you will enjoy the story and the lessons it shares.   And… to launch the book, I am asking for your help. I’ll be promoting the book using Publishizer, a new crowd-publishing platform. Would you take a moment and pre-order your copy today?  For doing so, you’ll get one of many pre-order rewards from me, like having your name included inside the book as a supporter!   I would be honored to have you join the book launch and help to spread this entertaining story that carries with it an important and impactful message!   Take a look at the book’s promotional website and look over the rewards available for different levels of pre-order options… You and your team will enjoy the story and the impact it will have  – and I will be very grateful for your help! (you can click here to visit the pre-order campaign page)     Sean Glaze...

Measuring Consensus in Team Meetings and Discussions

One of the most important insights for leaders is that total consensus is not required to move your team forward as a cohesive group – What your people want is not consensus, but honest conversation. They want to have an opportunity to share their perspective and input. If you as a leader will invite their contribution of ideas as part of the conversation, and if they feel that the ideas were thoughtfully considered, then most every member of the team will go along with the idea that is ultimately chosen. People want to be heard. And the best leaders will learn to ask an incredibly powerful question of the people they work with: “What do YOU think?” This simple question will do more for the engagement and investment of your team than virtually any other you could imagine – because it values their knowledge and viewpoint. And for when you DO need to gauge your team’s position on an issue, one of the easiest ways to do so is an activity called “Fist to Five.” A show of hands is a poor way to measure consensus, and it offers less information than something that is an easy alternative.  Too often, team leaders may ask for a show of hands to check on agreement – but that doesn’t take into account the amount of reservations or enthusiasm they have. A simple “raise your hands” is not accurate in helping you get a feel for where each of your people truly stand… so “Fist to Five” is a tool you can use to get a more precise reading. Some team personality...