When You Feel Offended - Get Offensive!

Have you ever noticed how quickly a conversation can get uncomfortable when someone says something that is rude, insensitive or simply contrary?  A cold hush comes over the room or a heated rush to battle makes innocent bystanders want to escape.  

What fascinates me is how the offended can so quickly get defensive.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not immune to this scenario.  I don't like it when someone takes a shot at me and I'm inclined to go into a "let's settle this right here and now" mode.  Which isn't always the best approach.  And that's what has me thinking today - "What is really going on in those awkward moments and what would be a better approach?"

The way I see it, these moments are similar to what happens in most sports.  There is offense and defense.  Each has a specific purpose and strategy.  The difference however, is that we don't approach conflict with purpose and strategy - we just react or over-react.  Let me explain:

When a team goes on offense - the goal is to make a point.  The same is true in life.  When we are "offended" it is typically because someone made a point that we don't like.  Whatever their intentions, we are unhappy.  

So we get defensive and try to protect our rights, dignity and pride.  We want to naturally "even the score"!  But defense is not about making points, it's about protecting our turf and preventing others from making any more points.

BasketballThink about that for a moment.  What do we do in a sporting event when the opposing team makes a point? Do we stay in a defense posture?  No!  We shift quickly into an offense strategy and seek to make our own points.  If we play only in a defensive mode, we'd never have control or opportunity to score.  A basketball team in defense is focused on preventing a score and getting the ball back.  If they succeed in that, they pivot their strategy immediately to offense.  Staying in defense at all times would be a guaranteed loss.  They would always be running backwards and being pressured by the competitor.  Might as well just sit on the bench and let the other team demonstrate their slam-dunk skills.

That's what I see happen all the time in corporate environments.  People get offended by a point made by another and in turn they immediately try to defend themselves.  Usually by attempting to discredit the other person or by arguing that the opposing view is wrong.  That is not an effective strategy.

When you feel offended - get offensive!  

Don't attack the person or their perspective.  Instead, use this offensive strategy:

1) Shift your thinking.  Give thought to how you can best communicate your ideas and make your next point.

2) Stay focused on the facts.   Being factual, not emotional is the best game plan.

3) Stand your ground.  If there has been a foul or an attack, don't retaliate.  I believe that if you stay professional, others will come to your defense and stand up for your integrity.  

4) State your position and make your point.  Be brief and tactful.

5) Step away.  Sometimes after the point has been expressed people need time to think. In other situations, if the "offender" is simply being a bully or trying to instigate a fight - it's time to walk way.  

Just one more thought.  Don't keep score.  It's much more rewarding to work with others for a desired team outcome, then it is to be constant competitors.

- Steven Iwersen


Top Ten Ways a Leader Benefits from Listening

File0002059106607
The leaders that have the most profound influence on their organization are those that have the respect, trust and confidence of their people.  We've discovered that those leaders have gained that level of influence through the intentional practice of being personable, producing valuable results and listening to their employees.

When I ask leaders who demonstrate a strong ability to listen what they consider to be the key difference between hearing and listening - the resounding anwer is attention.  

"You can hear whatever you want to hear, but when you give someone your attention, that's when you really start to listen." 

Asked to consider what the benefits of listening would be to a leader, and the answers reveal an attitude of honest communication and a culture of empowerment.  Here are the answers that I receive the most often and I highlighted in the article/video series Leaders Listen.

THE IMMEDIATE LEADERSHIP BENEFITS OF LISTENING:

• Makes the leader approachable

• Ideas are generated.

• Concerns are identified

• Gauges alignment to priorities

• Reveals your blind spots

• Empowers others to problem solve

• Improvement to efficiency and execution

• Time management

• Reduces conflict and stress

• Trust is cultivated and/or measured

What are your employees trying to tell you?  Your influence will be greatly enhanced the moment you begin to listen like a leader.  

I'd like to give you a special resource that I've created based on the listening behaviors learned from industry and community leaders.  There are 5 Key Tips on how to improve your listening skills and a personal development worksheet to help you put it all into practice.  Click here for more info and the downloads.

~ Steven Iwersen


Speak Less, Listen More - The Art of Persuasion


Balancing the demanding schedule of a leader is tough enough:

  • Client Meetings IMG_2416
  • Strategic Planning
  • Emails & Phone Conferences
  • Staff Agendas
  • Budget Considerations
  • Production / Service Issues
  • Communication

Communication.  That's the big one!  The one skill that weaves its way through every other responsibility.  And the leader has the extra challenge of keeping the balance between speaking and listening.  The speaking part comes easily for most leaders.  Especially when you reach a point of confidence in your mission and decisions.  The hard part for most leaders is the listening side of communication.  And yet, that is the skill that makes the biggest difference in your influence.

John Baldoni, chair of leadership development at N2Growth, contributes an important perspective on this in the SmartBLog on Leadership.  He points out an interesting example from the show “Ray Donovan”and how the title character played by actor Liev Schreiber demonstrates the importance of being a quiet leader.  "A quiet leader is one who values his own strengths but also has the ability to see the world as others do for one simple reason....Knowing how another thinks is essential to persuasion."

The problem is - we've never been taught HOW to listen and we don't have enough TIME to listen.  It is something that we have to learn "on the job" and master while attempting to lead others to a desired outcome. But, what if you had a system - a formula that could help you solve that problem? 

Here are 5 Key Tips / Filters that I coach leaders to use as a system for improving their ability to listen:  (From the LEADERS LISTEN article.)

RESPECT Respect the Other Person.   You give attention to those you respect.

RETREAT Retreat from the Distractions.  Minimize distractions to build positive actions!

REMOVE Remove Obstacles. Use the "Time Delay Advantage" to hear the real message.

RESTATE Restate for Understanding. Verify what you believe you heard.

RESPOND Respond for Action. Listen with the intent to produce solutions.

You can have the complete "Leaders Listen" report and strategy.  I'm giving it complimentary to every person who wants to be a more persuasive leader. Click here for the LEADERS LISTEN strategy.

In addition to the report, a 5 part video series has been posted to YouTube.  Each 4 to 5 minute segment offers practical ideas that will help you implement the strategy.  A self-paced study guide is available to help you.

Here is the first of that series.  Grab a cup of coffee and let's have a short visit.  

~ Steven

 

 


How to Manage a "Not My Job" Attitude and Be More Successful (Part 4)

In this brief series on how to manage a "not my job" attitude, we've discovered that business leaders use this concept in four very practical ways in order to be sustainably successful.  (Check out the first three methods:  Think Like A CEO,  Inventory Workload & Priorities,  Dominate & Delegate.)  

The fourth method is the one practice that truly separates this leaders from all the rest.

Do What Others Are Not Willing To Do.  

I'm not referring to the tasks, duties that you've delegated.  I'm talking about a forward thinking, proactive behavior that focuses your attention on finding the extra things that create added value to your employees, customers and the company.  These are the things that are not in your job description, but will make a difference for those you serve.  When you have freed up your time by letting go of the things that you shouldn’t do, you will have discretionary time to focus on creation instead of reaction.

My friend, Stephen Shapiro is on a mission to work only one hour a day.  He wrote in his article for American Express Open Forum:

“If you spent only 20 percent of your time extracting 80 percent of the revenue from your existing business model, this gives you 80 percent of your time to do something different.”

What could you do that no one else is willing to do in that 80% of extra time?  All it takes is one meaningful action or one excellent idea to separate you from the crowd.  Your customers will be blown away by the results you provide.  Your employees will be excited to be part of a forward moving agenda.  You will have a new sense of accomplishment and satisfaction because you will no longer be working a job, you will be leading the way.

Go ahead, act like it's "not my job" by practicing these four methods for the next 30 days.  You're going to start getting better results.   

I'm looking forward to your comments about the experience.

--  Steven

 

 


How to Manage a "Not My Job" Attitude and Be More Successful (Part 3)

Business Leaders have an attitude and a way of behaving that gets results.  Many of them are successful because they are very clear on what not to do.  They can confidently say, "That's not my job."  In previous blogs I introduced to you the first two methods that can help you do the same.  First, Think Like a CEO.  Secondly, Inventory Your Workload, Prioritize Your Worth.  Let's look briefly now at the third method that business leaders practice.

Dominate Your Space, Delegate with Grace

    Dominate your space!  Make a commitment to be the absolute best in your position.  Calendar your time around your highest priorities.  Don't waste your precious time and talents on things that are best managed by others.  Give your utmost efforts to those things you know will bring the greatest return on your investment.  I ask myself everyday, "Is this a $5 Million activity or a $500 distraction?"  Yes that may seem like an exaggeration, but the extremes help to keep the focus on what my work really means.

    Delegate with Grace.  Everything else that is on your list is your responsibility.  But, it could be accomplished by people who are smarter, better skilled, or more inclined to the task than you.  Let them do it and report to you the progress and outcomes.  The sooner you appreciate the value and worth that others contribute to the goals, the sooner you will generate a momentum that achieves those goals.

The most value that you gain from doing this is the time to practice the fourth method: "Doing What No One Else Will Do."   We'll cover that in the next post.

TIME FOR PERSONAL ACTION -  What distractions are keeping you from your best actions?   What should you be delegating to others?

Let me know what comes to your mind as you answer those two questions.

Thanks,

-- Steven

 


How To Manage a "Not My Job" Attitude and Be More Successful (Part 2)

Business leaders that practice a "not my job" attitude start by focusing their thoughts on the most important issues.  The best way to get that focus is to "Think Like A CEO or Busines Owner."  (Check out part one of this series right here -  GO!)  The second method is to:

Inventory Your Workload and Prioritize Your Worth

Here is a practical exercise to help you accomplish this.  Sit down and write out every task, objective, responsibility, expectations of yourself, expectations others have of you, projects, meetings, etc....  You have to have a complete inventory of what you do, should do and what you wish you could do. 

Once you have that completed, set it aside for a couple days. 

Then schedule 20 minutes with yourself (or if you have an assistant include them) and ruthlessly prioritize that list.  Don't over think this exercise.  Put a check mark next to the items that are "strictly your responsibility" or fit solidly within your strengths.  Resist the urge to check off every item.  Leave it alone if it can be done by another person or even automated.  

Create a new list of only those things you checked as priorities. 

Circle 3 to 5 items that you know are your best investment of mental and emotional energy.  These have to be proactive activities that create momentum toward the desired results.  Get focused on your most valued contribution.

Getting your list down to the absolute essentials will help you get up to speed on your greatest worth.

Consider these two questions:  What do you need to view differently if you are going to think like a CEO?  What are the essentials in your workload and expectations?  

If you're getting tired of fighting fires and always having to be in a reactionary posture - get clear on your answers to the questions above.

 

--  Steven

PS - Stay tuned for third method -  Dominate Your Space, Delegate with Grace.

 


How to Manage a "Not My Job" Attitude and Be More Successful (Part 1)

EyesThe words "It's not my job" usually causes a leader or manager to hang their head in disgust.  But we've been exploring the idea that possibly the phrase could be a positive launching point to move people to a greater sense of purpose and to be more engaged.

What would the employees in a large organization think if they heard their leaders and managers use the same term?  How could the concept of "not my job" actually help managers and executives be more productive?  Many successful leaders in business practice some form of this attitude.  Here are four methods that can help you manage your own "not my job" attitude and become more successful:

  1. Think like a CEO or Business Owner
  2. Inventory Your Workload, Prioritize Your Worth
  3. Dominate Your Space, Delegate with Grace
  4. Do What Others Are Not Willing To Do

Get ready for a big shift in your energy, focus and creativity.  Let's look at the first method:

Think Like a CEO or Business Owner.

Your title does not matter. You may be the VP of ________, the Manager of ________, or the Shift Supervisor.  Your role is not defined so much by the title, but by the value you contribute to the company and the results that are required.  People who look beyond the job expectations or the to-do list, and think of themselves as the CEO / Owner of their part of the company are the people who move the organization forward.  What does a CEO or Owner think about? 

Responsibility to stake holders, customers, and employees

Accountability to produce the right results.

Stability - financial, personnel, culture.

Productivity - their own and the company as a whole.

Development - a focus on growth.  What am I doing to equip leaders in my organization to make better decisions and to be big-play makers?  What are we doing to “create” as opposed to simply sustain?

Visionary - has a deeply personal view of what can be, not just what has been.

This is your job - to think proactively and to act accordingly.  Once you know what should be on your mind, then you can move on to the hard work of working only on your priorities.

--  Steven

PS - What do you think about that list?  What else should be on that list?  

 


I Want My Employees to say: "It's Not My Job"

I know, that doesn't make any sense!  

Why would a leader encourage members and employees of the organization to say "That is not my job"?

Because, it isn't their job.  Not if they work in an environment that empowers them to take responsibility for the outcomes.  People are more engaged and invested when there is an intrinsic understanding that the progress and success of the company is directly related to the individual efforts, skills, and ability to problem solve.  It is not their job, it is their mission - their cause.

People who have arrive at this understanding are deeply committed and have a greater sense of ownership.  In fact, they think and behave as if they do own the company.  For example, a young lady approached her boss with a strategy to reduce the time it takes to process a customers request for additional services.  Her plan could save employees approximately 20 minutes per transaction.  When the boss asked why she had given this so much thought and effort, she responded "I thought that the cost savings for the company would be significant and it would help employees to have time to focus more on producing results and less on process."  It was not her job to come up with those ideas.  Her "job" was to simply carry out the tasks.  And yet, her mission was to make the company stronger and her role became more valuable.

The fastest way you can begin creating this kind of energy and engagement is to:

1)  Minimize the rules, and get out of their way.

2)  Maximize the recognition and give them the credit.

(Click here for the Four Ways to Promote a Mission-Mindset)

There are two dangers to keep in mind as you move in this direction - the lines between who is responsible for what can become fuzzy and you may end up doing things that you shouldn't.

You can avoid the first problem by having regular conversations with individuals and the whole team about specific roles and responsiblities.  We need to release people to play to their strengths.  We also need to remind the whole team that we contribute to each others efforts, but not at the expense of our own duties.

The second problem of doing what you shouldn't do can be overcome by declaring "It's Not My Job".  My friend Laura Stack, the Productivity Pro, has a fantastic article that can help you stay focused on your priorities!

Share with me your thoughts about this blog or how you are empowering others to be more successful.

-- Steven

 


How to Turn "It's Not My Job" Into An Opportunity

ImageNothing can be more irritating to a customer, coworker or a leader than to hear someone spout off, “It is not my job!”  As a customer, I don’t care what’s in your job description.  What I care about is your ability to help me.  As a coworker, I’m more interested in a collaborative team effort and the success of our company.  As a leader, I consider your talents to be of value to the overall objectives and expect you to step up when needed.  (And as your leader, when you give me that kind of attitude I’m inclined to consider helping you find a different job in a remote location.)

“It’s not my job” has become a phrase that people use to excuse themselves from additional or undesirable work.  In some workplaces, it is used as the “invisible force field” that people invoke as they quote their job description and successfully avoid professional responsibility.  It is nothing more than the mantra of the lazy.

Let’s stop right there.  I’m going to suggest that we look at the phrase in a new way.  When an employee says “It’s not my job” - they are right.  Whatever is being asked of them is not their job.  It is no one’s job.  Because, none of us have a job.  That would be true if we worked in an environment that promoted personal and professional responsibility vs job descriptions and commands.  Our role as leaders is not to force or enforce job functions.  We are responsible to equip quality, productive people that have a mission-oriented mindset, not a job mentality.  They hear of a need and immediately consider “how can I best achieve the desired results?”

The right environment gives permission to workers to say, “It’s not my job - it is my mission… to wow the customer, help my coworkers succeed, and move our company to the leading edge of our industry.”  That attitude and atmosphere is what separates progressive, growing companies from those that are struggling to make a profit.  

There are FOUR WAYS TO PROMOTE A MISSION MINDSET:

1)  Create An “On-A-Mission” Environment.

Don't manage the job descriptions, lead the people.  Here are some quick tips for changing the focus of the work environment.  

  • Identify the "Why":  The Purpose gives meaning to the project.
  • Switch from a Top Down approach to a Side by Side Culture.
  • Model and Expect Engagement.  Communicate frequently that business growth is driven by personal growth.

2)  Coach Employees to Identify Their Role with the Mission.

Yes, there are specific duties and tasks that each of us are assigned and accountable to complete.  Don't stop there.  Help your employees see the bigger picture and encourage them to consider how their role compliments the misison.  

Skip Weisman wrote about this in a great article “Eliminating It’s Not My Job Attitudes”

He said: When everyone in the company understands the ultimate outcome or purpose, everyone’s “job” is to contribute to it by applying their unique talent and skill in their “role.”

3)  Cross Train for Stellar Outcomes

A team success becomes more important than an individual success.  When employees have a better understanding of other’s roles and can function in that role when called upon, they are more open to doing what ever it takes to accomplish the mission.

4)  Correct the Chronic with a Conduct Policy

There will be times that you must address the person that refuses to be mission focused and hold them accountable to a standard that is higher than they prefer.  You do not want to ignore this issue or it will become your problem.  To keep this conversation from being personal, make it a matter of policy.  My friend Monica Wofford has a great perspective on how to accomplish this in her blog, “What Happens When That’s Not My Job Becomes That’s Not My Problem.”

-- Steven Iwersen

 

 


Is Brainstorming Broken?

Innovation is the buzz word and expectation in every growing business today.  We are constantly striving to generate new ideas and spark creativity.  The most common method is to call for a brainstorming session.  Gather a group together, present the challenge and expect "earth shaking" results in an hour.  But sometimes brainstorming just doesn't work.  Could there be a better way?  

Dr. Tony MCCaffery suggests that there is no evidence that brainstorming works.  He offers a different approach that will generate hundreds more practical ideas in just minutes.  Check out his video. 

He suggests that the premise of talking through problems and ideas is not as effective as expecting people to write out their ideas, then submit them for others to consider.  The written form allows for all ideas to be considered and the introverted personalities gain an opportunity to have their suggestions presented.  His research indicates that the ideas are more practical and everyone involved is invested in the process.

I see his point, but disagree that the exercise of talking it out is the reason brainstorming doesn't work.  In my experience, talking through the challenges and hearing other perspectives often helps us gain understanding.  It also helps us generate greater levels of collaboration and cooperation.  

Brainstorming can be effective when you give people time to think, expect them to write out their ideas and read others ideas before they come to a brainstorming session.  The time for contemplation prior to the conversation is what makes the process more meaningful.  

Well, what do you think?

 

-- Steven Iwersen