Last week, a client asked me, “How can I delegate more effectively?” It made sense that she wanted to dig deeper into this. Delegation is a superpower for leaders — it’s one of the most powerful ways to scale yourself and your impact. I strongly believe: great leaders delegate better than average leaders.
Part of this is causality, though. If you don’t delegate, you’re probably going to burn yourself out as an average leader and never finish the journey to becoming a great leader.
In some ways, delegation was always one of my strengths. But it was also something I leaned into too much once in a while. I was quick to pass on responsibilities and give others opportunities, but it was sometimes a scattershot approach. And it didn’t always come with the clear guidelines and support that makes delegation effective.
So, where is the balance? How can we unlock this deep well of efficiency and effectiveness? Like most leadership topics, it begins with the leader.
1. Address Your Own Control Issues
Years ago, I went for a coffee with my friend Elsa, and she invited a friend, Laura. The moment Elsa went to the ladies room, Laura and I had a conversation, which ended up being full of awkward silences.
This probably happened because we were both shy.
If you’re anything like me, you might have experienced awkward situations in which you were in front of someone, probably a new acquaintance, and both of you had no clue what to say.
What follows are some great conversation starters I put together for myself to prevent uncomfortable situations. These all help me avoid awkward silences, like the ones I experienced years ago with Laura, and to have pleasant interactions.
Making sound agreements makes your life easier -
by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash
One of the complaints I often hear is this: “So-and-so does not respond to my emails.” My question back is, “What is your agreement with So-and-so about responding to emails?” Invariably I’m told that there is no agreement in place.
As much as one might assume that people should respond to emails in a timely manner, that doesn’t mean that they will. . . unless there is an agreement in place. If not, then your options are to complain, hope the person gets the hint, nag him or try to work around the unworkable situation.
You have a goal, but are worried you will not achieve it. So many issues are popping up that need dealing with, obstacles and other unexpected ‘stuff’ keeps interfering with your daily plan and / or overall daily structure. Stress kicks in, which means focusing is harder and so less is achieved … sound familiar?
All of these thoughts and mind chatter do not have to result in your getting off track or losing sight of your goal. The trick is to take charge of your thinking and push the ‘reset’ button. By this I mean, ‘reset’ the moment, not the direction you are heading or the goal you intend to achieve.
Resetting the moment means handling whatever is causing you stress. Stress is an emotional issue and will not vanish with the flick of a switch in your brain. Unless, of course, you already....
Change is not easy, nor simple. If you have been told you should change, but are not really convinced that this is true, you are more likely to fail at completing the process. Personally, I recognize the process to be complete when I no longer remember ‘what I was like before.’ Someone still in denial about the need to change will not get very far.
Chances are there will always be excuses in the form of: I do not have the time for this right now, I am busy, I already know how to…, it is not my fault, you do not understand, ‘a leopard cannot change its spots,’ I am too old, etc.
Change can only really happen if you are ready to take action.
Research shows that 90% of the strategies designed for change assume people are ready to take action. In reality, only 20% of the people already involved in some process of change are actually ready to take action. This helps explain why so many attempts to keep New Year's resolutions, lose weight, change behaviours, etc, are doomed to failure.
It is most helpful and supportive and will increase your chances of successfully completing a
Feel like constant meetings are hanging you up? Set a regular meeting with yourself.
Meetings and more meetings. Just as you finish one call, you are dialing into the next one. Need to go for toilet break? Forget it -- there’s another meeting. This meeting situation was already insane before the pandemic, and it it has only gotten worse now with so many people working from home.
There are dozens of articles about how to spend less time in meetings, how to reject meetings without looking bad, about 2/3 of our life being spent in meetings. All these articles trying to help us save ourselves. Yet many of us keep falling into the meeting trap. I have yet to find the magic formula for myself, however I do believe I am becoming more aware about how I am actually spending my time versus how I want to spend my time.
What makes for effective and resilient teams is something that interests many leaders and organisations. I have spoken about some of these aspects in other articles, particularly on team composition. But some new research gives some insights into the leaders themselves and how they influence effectiveness and resilience in the face of unexpected situations. Something that is of particular interest with the pandemic which has raised the importance of resilience.
So what behaviours created more effective and resilient teams?
Research into 48 teams from 5 Canadian startups by Brykman and King showed that those leaders who encouraged on-the-job-learning, and of note, also enabled and encouraged employees to speak up and give their ideas and suggestions for change, were more effective and more resilient.
An obvious point is that this is not in one-off situations but this must be constantly reinforced by
Miscommunication and mistrust are common when work is over email, text, and video. We need digital body language to foster understanding.
As the youngest child in an immigrant Indian family, I picked up basic English grammar fairly easily. But while English may have felt natural, I still lacked a lot of the contextual cues that came naturally to my American-born peers.
I remember once inviting a school friend to join my family for dinner at a local restaurant. At one point, my friend whispered to me that the waiters thought our party was “rude.” It wasn’t what anyone said; it was our tone and our cadence. You see, in Indian English, when people ask for something, they often use an intonation with a falling cadence so it comes off sounding like a statement rather than a question. Most Americans are accustomed to requests that end in a rising cadence. At that moment, I knew exactly what my friend meant: Without realizing it, everyone in my family sounded like we were ordering around the staff.
Photo credit: Pexel
Why you don’t learn from failure
How many times have you heard that failure is a “teachable moment?” That you learn more from failure than success? In a 2017 commencement speech, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts actually wished the graduating class “bad luck,” so they’d have something to learn from.
Yet my colleague Ayelet Fishbach and I find that failure has the opposite effect: It thwarts learning. In a recent study, we presented over 300 telemarketers with a quiz. The telemarketers answered 10 questions on customer service, each with two possible responses (i.e., “How many dollars do U.S. companies spend on customer service each year?” The answer choices: 60 billion or 90 billion).
Some considerations about your remote working environment by Paolo Cuomo.
Just over 9,000 days ago I entered 37 Fitzroy Square, London and sat at an office desk for the first time. 380 days ago I entered the iconic Cheesegrater building and sat at an office desk for the last time. I hope it won’t be the very last, but it’s clear I won’t be back until mid-2021 at the soonest. Ignoring a project I did many years ago with night-shift supermarket workers, this is the longest by far I’ve not worked in an office.
When the UK and much of the rest of the world went into “lockdown” back in March/April 2020, it all seemed rather temporary. Of the many millions conducting our work interactions via email and Zoom, most took a short-term approach to our workspace — sometimes through limited choice, sometimes through natural inertia. Sure, a new mouse or a monitor, but still just stuck in the same corner or on the dining room table.
As the work from home extended, we entered the summer months with the siren song of working outside or, as in my case, spending large parts of the day on calls while walking. Thus no real reason to adjust.
Now here we are a year later.
I was standing by the lake one windy morning watching the waves crash up against some rocks and the ripple effect that followed. The wave hit one area and cascaded long the others closer to where I was standing. It was beautiful, full of energy and at the same time made me realize that this can be translated into how one negative thought tends to release a series of more negative ones. This seems to happen to ‘feed’ or confirm the first one. I have found that negative thoughts hate being alone ... they look for company.
In my own personal experience as well working professionally in the arena of personal growth and development, I all too often witness how this unfolds.
I am not a therapist or neuroscientist so cannot speak scientifically. Having said that I have enough evidence after 16 years of working in this area to be able to say the patterns are there.
It strikes me that our minds do not like to give up the negative thoughts. Our brain looks for further thoughts to confirm this 'truth'. The thought might be far from true now in our actual present-day reality, yet we treat it as absolute truth in our thinking. From what I witness, these beliefs come from emotions, more often than not emotions from the past, even the recent past (the last job, last relationship). Our behaviour follows our thinking, so our behaviour will act upon what we think and therefore believe.
For example, if you believe you are not very good at something, chances are you will act this way. Instead of taking the approach to learn how to or improve, you simply shy away from it.
Of course, the very first step must be being aware of this thought pattern and the resulting behaviour. To make any changes it is vital to be aware of a pattern. If it turns out to be limiting belief that is holding you back, this belief is best challenged and reframed. If it is due to lack of clarity ... you go get more clarity.
Saying calm and grounded require certain behaviours that feed the calm. Each person will have their own requirements. What you as an individual need to feel calm will most likely differ from someone else’s needs. Each person has their own interpretation of success as well as what feeling calm and grounded means.
Based on my own personal experience, this also changes depending on age. When I was 30, my focus was very different to when I was 40. At 30, I was focused on creating my family and being a wife and mother. At 50, I noticed that feeling fulfilled was my new goal and turning 60 was fabulous as I had completely grown into my skin by then and was more than happy to focus on my core values and needs. My goal of 'older age' is answering the question ‘how do I want this chapter of my life to look and feel?’ For me, this one is still work in progress, so watch this space.
Tips for what comes next
If you find yourself lost in a negative thinking pattern regarding an issue, observe any common denominators that kick the first thought off. What sets those wheels in motion? What happens next? Observe yourself, raise your awareness to your patterns.
Is it a recurring situation, a recurring interaction, an issue left unresolved, a lack of clarity? ...It could be a number of things. Get to know yourself to find out what exactly it is. Then observe what comes next. Which thoughts follow, how do you act, react, behave, or deal with it?
Always remember to be patient and kind with yourself during any process of growth or change.
by Suzie Doscher
Coaching for Personal Growth and Development: Life Coaching and Executive Coach, Self-Help Author
Photo credit: Pexels and Shutterstock
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The reason those three words drive me crazy is because in order to think positive, a positive mindset is necessary. Naturally even positive thinkers can have moments of drifting off into negative thoughts. Their strength is to return to a more positive approach rather than go to the doom and gloom of a negative thinker.
To ‘just think positive,’ it is necessary to have a positive mindset.
When you are struggling to stay positive about something, you are probably feeling stressed. This might be the result of feeling uncertain or lacking clarity about the situation, person or project, or any number of other reasons. So when I hear that the advice given by a helpful, supportive friend or colleague is “Just think positive,” I am tempted to ask: “And exactly how do you suggest your friend or colleague does this while feeling stressed?”
Of course changing your mindset or perspective from negative to positive is brilliant advice. It is the expectation that this happens in a flash that makes me crazy. It is not as if you can flick a switch in your mind.
Supporting employees who initially come across as timid can help these people feel comfortable at work and deliver great results for the company.
Experienced managers will have overseen teams comprising all sorts of characters and personality types, from the boldest extroverts to the quietest introverts.
Commonly accepted ideas in the world of work, and society as a whole, suggest the people who speak loudest and take control of social situations are the most capable and able to deliver results.
But that isn’t necessarily true. Natural introverts often have many qualities that can prove particularly valuable for businesses, so there’s a lot to be gained from supporting employees who initially come across as shy and timid.
Here are some of the ways you can do that...
I remember doing a Self-Esteem exercise while I was studying to become a coach. What I loved about the Noble Manhattan Coaching training was that we had to do all work on ourselves. Talk about furthering your own personal growth and development. I loved the changes that I was making to my own behaviour patterns as I was learning how to apply them professionally.
15 years later I still believe it to be the best coach training even if I had not become a professional coach. The benefits from doing the work for myself improved the quality of my personal and professional life no end and still does.
One of the hardest jobs a leader has is giving corrective feedback to someone whose behavior is difficult, aka "the difficult employee." This person's behavior is adversely affecting the team, not just you. You've tried all the soft approaches like ignoring the behavior, making a joke about it, dropping hints -- and still he persists.
Finally the time has come to deal with this head on. You need to give him straight feedback. Most people would rather scratch their fingernails down a chalkboard than do that, but, hey, you are the leader, so it's your job. You bravely say yes, but wonder privately if, by talking to him straight, you're going to make things even worse.
What if you could give this feedback to him in a way that would solve the problem and even enhance your working relationship with him? What if he would actually thank you at the end of the conversation, grateful that you cared enough to talk to him about it? This is possible!
Here are 5 steps to follow in order to to make the biggest difference possible. You might consider experimenting with these steps also when the stakes are lower, BEFORE an employee get labeled as "difficult."
1. Prepare for the conversation ahead of time.
Mental resilience is the cornerstone of a successful life - but can you build it in yourself, your family and your team?
Crying every morning may sound like a terrible way to start the day, but for life coach Suzie Doscher, Class of 1974 (1970-74), tears are a vital safety valve – and a healthy response to a global pandemic. “When a friend asked me how I was coping with lockdown, I told her I regularly had a good cry,” she says. “I sometimes started the day feeling uneasy or unsure, but I know it’s important to deal with my emotions so I release them by having a cry. That is how I got myself to a place where both my feet were firmly on the ground, and then I knew that I could handle whatever came my way.”
Now, more than ever, our mental health matters. We live, work and study at breakneck speed, bombarded by choice. And with technology – and the recent lockdowns – creating an ‘always on’ environment, boundaries between life and work are increasingly blurred. Clearly, the ability to build our own mental resilience, in mentally healthy work and living spaces, is crucial.
None of this is news to Brigitte Eigenmann, Head of Human Resources at ZIS. “Our mental and physical health are connected,” she says. “That’s why we need to take mental health seriously.”
Just as life is constantly changing, the brain is constantly changing. It is through repetition that thinking patterns and consequently behaviour patterns, can be shifted, tweaked, changed or completely replaced with more positive empowering ones. Through repetition the brain rewires itself.
Science has proven the brain can rewire itself. This is fantastic news especially for anybody wishing to improve the quality of their life and engaging the support of a coach for this 'change' process. Making, and more importantly sustaining, any changes in thinking or in behaviour patterns, would be very difficult, if not impossible, without this scientific truth. Knowing this offers coaching clients not only motivation but also confidence to continue on the path to 'change', which sometimes can be a difficult one.
One of the most powerful words in the English lexicon today is “trigger.” We are finally accepting that there is a spectrum of internal and external influences that can legitimately take us off course. We understand that a person, place, object, event, even a smell, can trigger an emotional response so potent, we can be transported back to a trauma we’ve worked hard to forget or come to terms with. These triggers can threaten our well-being and disrupt feelings around our core values. They can appear out of nowhere and make us feel powerless.
As an aspiring leader, a trigger can become your biggest obstacle. A strong, effective leader needs to be able to identify their emotional triggers, understand what can set them off, and steel themselves when these triggers threaten to topple everything they’ve worked for.
Here are some strategies to help you identify and deal with those triggers so you can grow and develop into the leader you are meant to become.
The brain isn’t a muscle, but it still needs to “feel the burn” in order to build new neural connections that actually last.
Remember being in middle school and preparing for an exam? Chances are you spent your study time paging through your class notes or rereading the textbook. Maybe you highlighted important details as you went.
We now know this is a pretty terrible way to study. You might’ve felt like you were absorbing the information, but you probably forgot most of it a few weeks after the test. In cases like these, you’re falling for what psychologists call “fluency”– you have a grasp of the information while you’re looking at it on the page. It feels good, easy, and reassuring. But that fluency doesn’t translate to actually recalling what you learned later on, let alone any change in skills or behavior.
If an employee is missing targets, blowing deadlines, or handing in shoddy work, it can be tempting to push off any conversation about it and hope that things get better on their own. But you’re not just doing yourself and your company a disservice by staying quiet. An employee who’s falling short deserves to know it so that they have the opportunity to self-correct before things get too dire. And having to fire someone is even more uncomfortable than stepping in earlier.
Delivering the news effectively, though, is a delicate art. “It’s important to remember that this person has emotions and feelings attached to the information they’re receiving,” says industrial-organizational psychologist Amy Cooper Hakim, author of Working with Difficult People and founder of the Cooper Strategic Group.
As a rough guideline, just follow the golden rule: “Handle this conversation the way you’d want it to be handled if you were on the other side,” says Justin Dauer, author of Cultivating a Creative Culture and executive at the technology company bswift. “As long as the dialogue is less oration-based and more collaboration-based, there are a lot of positives that could come out of it.” Here’s how to pull it off.
People are inundated with information, and their brains have reached a saturation point. If you want to get someone's attention, you must be brief, according to Joe McCormack, who spoke at IdeaFestival 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky.
There are three tendencies that keep most people from being brief:
In case you haven’t heard, work-life balance is a myth. At Thrive, we’re all about work-life integration. It’s different from work-life balance in that it’s a more holistic — and realistic — approach. The truth is that none of us will ever achieve perfect balance, and striving to get there just stresses us out. Work-life integration acknowledges that sometimes work will demand more of your attention, and other times life will, but by setting boundaries and making sure you’re prioritizing healthy habits, you’ll be able to thrive in all facets of your life.
We asked our Thrive community for their best tips for leaving work at work, and they had some pretty great strategies.
Here are a few of our favorites:
A brief overview of the basics of Personal Development as I experience the process based on my coaching practice.
1. The Present
Eckhart Tolle refers to living in the now, which means being able to see and feel what your life is in the present moment.
The present-day buzzword for this is to be mindful by practicing mindfulness.
Standing in a beautiful park, by a calming body of water, or attending your child’s school play or other family event, and actually seeing the trees, feeling the flow and energy of the water, enjoying the play or event while feeling joy instead of being lost in your thoughts (which are taking you elsewhere) is experiencing the now, the present moment, being mindful of that very moment.
Thoughts can propel you into an entirely different location even if you are not there physically. It seems odd that we do not just naturally live in the now. After all, almost everyone would agree that the present moment, the now, is all we have.
When you are able to live in the day life becomes more relaxed and enjoyable. You empower yourself by influencing what you can influence.
There are no quick fixes for work-related stress, but taking a day to recharge can be powerful for our mental well-being.
At Thrive, for example, we offer Thrive Time: a half or whole day off to recover from a spurt of intense work, which doesn’t count toward vacation, sick time, or other paid time off. Thrive Time is meant to recharge us, so we can return re-energized and feeling creative and productive again. Whether your company offers a similar policy or more general paid time off, if we’re not mindful, a day off can slip by, and instead of feeling refreshed when we return to work, we feel regret for how we spent our time away.
To make the most of a day off, consider these three tips:
When managers answer this question, they often describe how and how often they deliver feedback to their employees: timely, direct, actionable, contextual, continuous. As long as the feedback is delivered often enough and directly enough, we reason that it’s effective.
Unfortunately, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
A recent Harvard Business Review article by Michael Schaerer and Roderick Swaab titled “ Are You Sugarcoating Your Feedback Without Realizing It?” provides a grave reality check. Their research shows that many managers deliver inflated feedback unintentionally, and often think they’ve been much more clear than they have been.
Indeed, in one study mentioned in the article conducted at a multinational nonprofit organization, Schaerer and Swaab observed that “the employees perceived feedback as being more positive than their managers thought they would.” When the feedback became more negative, the understanding gap widened.
Self-Help Book / Personal Development