Archives for August 2015

Your Lack of Response Is A Response

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This week I want to talk to you about why your lack of response is a response.

I am stunned by the amount of email that some of my clients get. It can be overwhelming. I know these people to be good, caring leaders who want to make a difference and who want to bring out the very best in others. But they get overwhelmed by electronic communication. When they do I remind them of three things.

#1. By not responding you are damaging your brand and reputation.

#2. By not responding you are increasing employee or customer anxiety.

#3. By not responding you are reducing performance because people can’t act on timely information, and in turn they become disengaged. It’s a vicious cycle.

So, not responding is a response…at least it is in the mind of the person who is trying to communicate with you. If it is, what do I suggest? I suggest you get really clear on expectations. And the expectations need to be around:

#1. What’s the best vehicle to reach you? Letting people know the best vehicle to reach you reduces anxiety and uncertainty.

#2. What’s the time frame people can expect for you to respond. In other words, if you say to people, “if you send me an email, I’ll get back to you within three days,” then you have to get back to them in three days. If you say, “the best way for you to reach me is to send me a text,” then you have to respond to the text.

These two points are important in today’s culture because everyone has been “Amazoned.” I love Amazon. I can buy with one simple click, receive a notification of my order as well as my shipping date. I love it! If you’re watching this and you work for Amazon…your service is addictive. I pay Amazon Prime fees and I’m buying a whole lot more merchandise. Amazon is responsive. They communicate with you and they remove an uncertainty, anxiety or ambiguity about our orders.

Your employees have been “Amazoned” and expect you to respond in tight timeframes. And when you don’t respond, it creates a negative impact.

So this week, get very clear about the best way to reach you, and what the expectations are about when you’ll respond. If you do those two things people will see you as being responsive and your brand and reputation will go up.

The Vacuum of People Skills and How To Fill It

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Have you ever met, talked with or interacted with someone who really, really frustrated you? We all have. When you consider all of the factors that frustrate you about working with others you will undoubtedly find that it is their behavior and the corresponding way they make you feel that is the issue.

When someone’s behavior is different from yours; they like to do things quickly when you like to do things methodically, you don’t describe the other person as different you label them as difficult. And therein lies the problem for getting work done. The vast majority of performance barriers are more personality based than they are technically based.

If you want to be a valuable business partner to the people who matter most to you, you have to learn to focus on the impact your behavior has on people and not your intent with people. Impact is what determines the level of trust and respect in professional and personal relationships. While technology has advanced at an unprecedented rate, for leaders however the advances on the people side of work has faltered like an unreliable wireless network.

Hugh’s Three Impact Questions:

1. What is the impact I want to have with the people who matter most to me?

2. What is the impact I am having with the people who matter most to me?

3. Who is the best person to help me answer number two?

The best answer to number three is an outside advisor or coach. In the absence of this type of relationship you may have a colleague or coworker who has both direct experience of you working with customers and who has the courage to tell you the unvarnished truth.

If you have neither, feel free to ask me about my Leadership Brand Audit. I help leaders or teams see their Default Brand, their Desired Brand and their Designed Brand all within thirty days.

Cross Your Heart and Hope To Die

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Leaders who are successful in converting human potential into accelerated results willingly and purposefully make nonnegotiable promises to customers, employees, bosses and vendors. They see promises as part and parcel of being accountable for the experiences key constituents. This is essential in building a flourishing business.

Making a declaration as to what a leader can be relied on for reduces apprehension, ambiguity and uncertainty and allows people to devote their creativity and curiosity into higher performance. When leaders make promises to customers as to the type of experience they can expect, they’re most successful in creating those customer experiences when they simultaneously make promises to employees about the types of experiences they can expect from the leader.

The business admonition that you will never have happy customers if you have unhappy employees, when accepted and internalized, necessitates drawing a line in the sand as to what customers, employees and leaders promise to one another. It requires making nonnegotiable promises to the people that matter most to you. For example, what promises have you made to your employees, your customers, your board or key vendors?

In the absence of compelling promises what fills the void is uncertainty and underperformance. Here are three categories of promises that reduce uncertainty and increase performance. Each of your answers must be compelling, highly differentiated and memorable. If not, they’ll fall on deaf ears and not be acted on.

1. To customers: You are so valuable to us as a company that in all situations you can expect and rely on us to provide you with…

2. To employees: Without you, the people who create the above customer experiences and make this organization what it is, in all situations you can rely on and expect leaders at every level of your organization to provide you with…

3. To bosses: You hired me to lead this organization in ways that create increased value, in all of my interactions with you you can expect and rely on me to provide you with…

The greater the enthusiasm you have for answering these questions the greater the likelihood you’ll have for creating something noteworthy, exciting and remarkable.

What promises will you make today?

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom

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In my new book, Mastering The Leadership Mindset, I have a chapter entitled: Mindset is not just for athletes, academics and mystics. In it I make the case for investing time, resources and energy into your mindset. Here’s my take on mindsets.

Having a positive mindset allows you to be significantly more successful in virtually any endeavor you choose to participate in. If you bring a positive mindset to your leadership you infuse stronger beliefs about what’s possible as well as instill hope that the work undertaken will be transformational. In essence, a positive mindset creates abundant optimism about the level of success that’s possible.

This is not blind naiveté or looking through rose-colored glasses. How you think and what happens in between your ears can make you a champion or a runner up. The no-nonsense Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks once said, …”in the NFL, every person who plays on Sunday is at the top of his game. Everyone is an incredibly talented and gifted athlete. But what makes the difference between winning and losing is what happens in between the ears of each player. How they think, and how quickly they read a play and respond to it is the key differentiator. 80 percent of success in the NFL is mental.”

Eighty percent of a leader’s success in transforming themselves as well as their organization is mental. There are leaders who believe that work is a long, slow slog through enemy territory on their belly with bullets flying over their heads. This mindset will produce lower performance 100 percent of the time. You cannot perform at the highest levels if your mindset is equally not at the highest level possible.

How is your mindset? Are you a purveyor of positivity? Do you believe your beliefs and perceptions create either a positive or a negative outcome? Will you willingly accept that your mindset shapes and forms the mindset of others you work with, and in turn, drives positive or negative performance?

If you have a positive mindset you will have the following three benefits:

#1. You convert obstacles into opportunities for greatness

#2. You foster creative thinking

#3. You infuse hope, optimism and perseverance into every cubicle and corner office you visit

Are you experiencing these three benefits? If not, check your mindset. If you are, share your mindset with as many people as possible. Why? Because that’s what leaders with positive mindsets do.

The Most Important Decision You’ll Make Today

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Today I want to talk to you about the most important decision you’ll make today.

The most important decision you will make today is a bifurcated choice: turn left or right. If you turn left you’re going to do something today to bring out the very best in others. If you turn right you don’t. By turning right, you forget to bring out the best in others because you got overwhelmed.

When you don’t bring out the very best in others there is a negative impact on your customers. The negative impact is rooted in the reality that you cannot bring out the very best experiences for customers unless or until you bring out the very best experiences for employees. Without flourishing customer experiences you cannot have a flourishing business.

If you want a flourishing business I have three suggestions for you.

1. Get crystal clear about what bringing out the very best for customers means for your leadership, for your team, for your organization. Why is it important, what does it look like, what is that experience for customers?

2. Get equally as clear about what bringing out the very best for employees looks like. What is it for them that allows them to do their very best work?

3. Do something every day that is on your employees list. When you bring out the very best for them they will see you doing it and will in turn do it more for your customer.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is another benefit to bring out the best in others. It feels really good when you do it. You’re turning toward the very best part of human nature and you’re bringing it out, as opposed to bringing out the worst in human nature. One is so much more rewarding than the other.

What is the one thing that you will do to bring out the very best in a receptionist, in a warehouse worker, in a nurse, in an IT professional? One thing everyday…if you do one thing daily your business will begin to flourish.

Are You Listening to Yourself?

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This week I want to ask you an important question…are you listening to yourself? Are you listening to the dialog you have taking place in between your ears?

You and I both know there’s an angel on one shoulder giving wonderful praise and recognition for the smart, talented, and creative person we are. On the other shoulder is a devil saying “you are not smart and creative. You are actually pretty stupid, and you should not have said that, you’re not very attractive and you’re overweight…” The devil tells us all these negative things to make sure our life is not flourishing. Every day we have two voices to choose from. It’s our choice.

Even though intellectually you know to listen to the angel, you listen to the devil. When you do you end with negative self-talk. Not all the time, but at certain times. And your negative self talk will never support you doing something noteworthy.

If you want to do something creative and noteworthy, you have to replace your negative self-talk with positive self-talk. How do you do that? Two steps:

#1 Notice when you engage in negative self talk. Catch yourself in the process, notice it, and without any judgement repeat to yourself, “hmm, isn’t that interesting? I seem to be doing that again.”

#2 Instantly replace it with a positive version of the situation. Have a positive spin and replace it as soon as you become aware of any negative self-talk.

Doing the above will create a new habit. New habits take about eight to ten weeks to fully develop and transform your way of thinking. These two steps will create new neural pathways in your brain.

So ladies and gentlemen, if you want to have a more effective work week, then you convert negative self talk into positive self talk, and to do that I’m going to leave you with a quote from Vincent Van Gogh; “If you hear a voice in your head saying, “you are not a painter,” then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”

I hope that you silence the negative voice that you have in your head, and I’ll see you here again next seek.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom

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Breakthrough Thinking Precedes Breakthrough Performance

There is one inescapable fact in the world of human performance. When breakthroughs in the quality of a persons thinking mirrors the quality breakthroughs experienced in areas such as healthcare and or technology, then breakthrough performance results.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom: You can have all the talent in the world and you’ll never achieve noteworthy or remarkable results until you change what happens in between your ears.

Percy Harvin is one of the most talented football players in the NFL today. But this year he’ll play for his third team in four years. He’s fast and highly talented, but is known by coaches and teammates as being egotistical, uncooperative and uncoachable. That’s a waste of talent.

John McEnroe was equally as talented, but his inability to control his emotions and harness the mental aspects of the game of tennis resulted in him blaming all his poor performances on external forces. John never achieved his full potential.

Breakthrough performance involves learning the following five breakthrough thinking skills.

1. Have a big idea: Achieving breakthrough results is never accomplished by accident. Results that are noteworthy are pursued purposefully, persistently and passionately. Nelson Mandela survived twenty-seven years in prison and brought an end to Apartheid as president of South Africa because of his big idea. J.K. Rowling went from newly divorced single mother on state benefits to world record setting author because of her big idea. Steve Jobs led the business worlds biggest turnaround and increased Apple stock price 9000% over fifteen years because he had a big idea.

Your solution: Every person I’ve ever coached or consulted with has a big idea. What they hadn’t done prior to working with me is spend time reviewing their past performance in order to clarify and articulate their big idea. When you identify what inspires you and what allows you to use your talents and skills to provide value to the people that matter most to you – that’s when you’ll have your big idea.

2. Jettison judgment: We are all our worst critics. We have two voices we hear frequently in our head. One is the good coach that affirms us and supports our growth. The other is the bad coach yelling we are useless and despicable. All too often when given the choice as to which voice to listen to the bad coach voice is chosen. Intellectually, yes people will agree that the good coach voice is the best one to listen to, but the bad coach wins the day. When that happens curiosity and growth fly out the door.

Your solution: Judgment shrinks appreciably when you cultivate courage and curiosity about how you think and the influence your thinking has on your performance. It takes courage to turn your back on the all too frequently heard negative shouting from the bad coach. Courage, when coupled with curiosity become a dynamic duo for seeing clearly your thinking patterns, learning from them and choosing new ones.

3. Be ruthlessly accountable: Your performance is determined by your behavior. Some behaviors you will want to replicate while other behaviors you will want to eliminate or reduce. But, why do you behave in the ways you do? While complicated, the short answer is that you have habitual thinking patterns that trigger habitual responses and behaviors.

Your solution: Take full accountability for your responses to what happens. This can be easier to do with your external environment because it’s less emotionally charged. But taking responsibility for your internal environment; that which happens in between your ears, that’s harder to do. It’s harder because you will judge yourself and second guess your perceptions, your wisdom and ultimately your self-worth. In the face of habitual thinking and responses being fully accountability for your behavior and thinking is essential in creating breakthrough performance.

4. Focus on progress not perfection: The 2008 recession left a large swath of employees feeling insecure and uncertain about their jobs and financial lives. In order to have a greater sense of security they concluded that security is best achieved through work that is free from mistakes. Failure in turn is seen by many as a reason for termination as opposed to a catalyst for greater results. This is a performance inhibiting belief.

Your solution: Kick perfection to the curb. A simple formula that’s helpful is the 1% Solution Formula. If you get better at any activity by 1% each day within seventy-two days you will be 100% better than you are today. That’s right, 100% better. Within a six month coaching contract I tell clients there are three new skills they can get very, very good at. When theses new skills are aligned with their big idea…magic happens.

5. Master your mindset: There are people who have a scarcity mindset and others an abundance mindset. When the yogurt hits the fan a scarcity mindset sees what all is missing, how damaging the situation will be and starts playing in order not to lose. An abundance mindset sees the yogurt hitting the fan as presenting new opportunities for learning and growth and looks for ways to play to win versus playing not to lose.

Your solution: Keep in mind this fact about mindsets. Whatever a trusted coach or mentor tells you – what you tell yourself is ten times more powerful. When you tell yourself you are talented, smart and creative your performance increases. When you tell yourself the opposite your performance suffers. Only you can change your internal dialogue, but when you do, your mindset becomes a catalyst for a flourishing personal and professional life.

Where do you start? Take an inventory of your mindset and self talk throughout the day. When is your mindset the healthiest and most vital? What enabled you to have that mindset? Did you spend time with a particular group of people? Did you spend quality time in meditation or prayer? Did you workout, eat well or have a great conversation with a loved one? Identify what enabled you to have a breakthrough mindset and exploit it. Identify what detracted you from having a breakthrough mindset and eliminate it.

Words of Wisdom Challenge: Before the sun sets today, answer the questions in either the big idea section or the master your mindset section. Take one positive aspect of your big idea or mindset and increase the frequency of how often you engage with it by 15%. This will radically alter the trajectory of your performance.