Bad Leadership Perpetuates Bad Leadership

July 11th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

“A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.”

—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

What’s the quality of leaders you are selecting?

Every one of us has either experienced first hand or heard horror stories about the impact of bad leadership. All too often it feels like good leaders, let along great leaders, are in short supply. Unfortunately bad leaders typically select individuals who lack the necessary skills to be an effective leader, which simply perpetuates the cycle of poor leadership.

Determining whom to promote into a leadership role is one of the most important decisions you can make for your team and organization. The natural temptation is to promote your highest performer and/or subject matter expert. Surely if they know the most about the role they will be a good leader, right? Wrong!

Your highest performer might be the last person you want to make a leader. Rather than simply considering an individuals technical knowledge, you need to consider how well they interact with others. Leadership is about creating a vision and developing a team to achieve that vision.

A leader’s vision is worthless if he or she is unable to inspire a group of individuals to help bring it to life. When making the decision to promote someone into leadership, consider who projects a calm presence and is able to relate to a wide range of people. Look for the individuals the rest of the team naturally gravitates to for help and who demonstrate patience while offering help.

Leadership in the 21st Century is not about having all the answers. Leaders today must possess the desire and ability to empower their team to use their strengths to help the organization achieve its vision. Success begins with making the right decision when selecting a leader. Whatever you do, don’t take this decision lightly!

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Don’t Focus on Results

April 25th, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

“As a leader, we are not responsible for the results. As a leader, we are responsible for the people who are responsible for the results.” —Simon Sinek

What’s your priority as a leader, results or building a team to achieve results?

Leaders are ultimately evaluated by their ability to achieve the organization’s goals. However, it’s impossible to reach the goals without the help of their team. Many leaders put the cart before the horse and primarily focus on achieving results.

Failing to recognize the importance of building a team, leaders often resort to issuing orders and forcing compliance. They fail to recognize that their top responsibility is to create an environment that enables team members to contribute the best they have to offer. I recently read an article referring to this tendency as over managing and under leading, which I think is very fitting.

Without a great team, and environment that inspires them to give their best every day, long-term goals will remain out of reach. Rather than obsessing on results, the best leaders focus on hiring the right people and fostering a sense of commitment within the team. They understand that once they have a committed team in place the results will naturally follow.

Let go of your desire to control the outcomes. Instead, focus your energy on building a spectacular team and unleashing their creativity. You will be amazed at what they can accomplish.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Develop Leaders not Followers

April 4th, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink


“Weak leaders have the luxury of looking after themselves. Great leaders have the honor of looking after others.” —Simon Sinek

What’s your motive for being a leader?

Leadership isn’t about you; it’s about your team. If you’re in a leadership role because you like the power and get fulfillment from giving orders, than do yourself and your team a favor and get out now.

Weak leaders focus on simply giving orders. They’re worried about their personal success and are convinced that all will be okay if everyone just does what they say. In reality, that approach is ineffective in our complex world.

Great leaders don’t issue directives and micro-manage their staff. They understand that success is dependent upon their ability to articulate a clear vision and develop the leadership mindset within their team.

If you want to be a great leader, let go of the need to control. Set the vision, develop the knowledge and skills on your team, and get out of their way. You’ll be amazed at what they are capable of when you do.

What step are you taking this week to develop leaders?

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC


Leaders Are Always On Stage

March 21st, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

“Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you are in control, they’re in control.”

 —Tom Landry 

From the moment you step into a leadership role, you are on a stage. Your team is watching every move you make, taking cues about what’s important or how to respond. As you rise to even higher levels within the organization the number of people observing your actions increases exponentially.

As a leader you must understand and accept this reality. Make it a point to pause and consider the message you are sending, especially during crisis. If you remain calm, your team will remain calm and everyone will respond effectively.

Embrace the opportunity to model for your team how to respond to challenging situations with composure. By doing so you will develop a resilient team capable of handling any challenge thrown their way.

What message is your leadership sending?

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Learn to Lead

September 27th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

—John F. Kennedy

What have you learned lately?

We’ve all heard that life long learning is the key to success. However, it can be easy to simply dismiss this as a trite saying. In reality, this adage has never been truer than it is today.

In the book The Coaching Manager, James Hunt and Joseph Weintraub point out that it used to be possible to spend the first 20 – 30 years of our life amassing all the knowledge we needed and then rely on what we acquired for the next 30 years of our career. That approach is no longer effective. I recently read an article that stated the only thing it takes to be the smartest person in the room is a smart phone. The author’s premise is that it is the ability to learn that is important today and we need to focus on developing learning workers not simply knowledge workers.

With the pace of change today, you must continue to evolve or your will be left behind. It’s not acceptable to rely on a strategy or approach that worked a year ago, let alone five years ago. If your not pushing yourself to consider and explore new approaches you will eventually find that your skills, and possibly your organization, have become obsolete.

Challenge yourself to stay curious. No matter how much you might think you have the answers, remain open to the ideas of others. Seek out the perspective of your team and ask them to suggest improvements. It’s also critical that you stay up on changes happening within your industry. Regularly read industry trade magazines and attend conferences where you can learn about what other organizations in your industry are doing.

Although it is important to learn from your staff and about your industry, it’s equally critical to learn from areas outside of your industry. Seek out key innovations from a range of industries and in the field of science. You never know when new technology or techniques in one industry might spark an idea for your industry and organization. Finally, continually study the practice of leadership. Challenge yourself to evaluate your leadership style and make any adjustments necessary.

The bottom line is that in order to be successful as a leader today you must keep learning. Upon earning a leadership position, if you adopt the attitude that you have arrived, it is only a matter of time before you realize that you are being passed up. On the other hand, if you stay curious and open to learning, you will have the flexibility necessary to adapt quickly and will likely discover ideas that can help you and your organization thrive in a chaotic business environment.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one step you can take this week to learn something new.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Light Leadership

May 31st, 2015 § 4 comments § permalink

“He who has great power should use it lightly.” —Seneca

How do you wield power?

It’s critical to you use your power responsibly as a leader. You can choose to throw your weight around while issuing directives and barking orders. Or you can rely on attraction, where you inspire others and invite them to join you. How you choose to leverage your power will impact your long-term success as a leader.

Autocratic leadership styles aren’t effective over the long-term. If you attempt to rule through fear and intimidation, you’ll end up with two negative outcomes. First, you will run off the most talented people on your team. Individuals who are confident in their abilities know they don’t have to put up with this behavior. They trust in their ability to find a more suitable role and won’t hesitate to leave.

Those who don’t leave will retreat and become a shell of themselves. Your behavior will create a culture of fear where everyone is afraid to take risks. They’ll do the minimum necessary to get by and fly under the radar. Although it may initially appear that your autocratic style is the key to getting people to do what you want, the positive results will be short lived and it won’t take long before your results begin to suffer.

A better alternative is to employ a coaching and collaborative leadership style. Rather than dictating to others what they must do, help them understand why certain tasks and directives are important. When faced with a difficult challenge, seek their input. Make a point to tap into their knowledge and get them to help identify potential solutions.

Finally, help each member of your team understand their strengths and how they can use those strengths to impact the mission and vision of your organization. The more opportunity they are given to play to their strengths each day, the more engaged they will become. They’ll be excited to come to work and will continually look ahead to identify potential problems or opportunities before they even crop up.

Successful leaders understand that they don’t have to exert their power in order to be effective. Rather, they work hard to earn respect by showing respect to each member of the team. True leaders know that once they’ve cultivated a relationship of mutual respect they’ll have built a team that is committed to the organization and willingly step-ups to any challenge presented to them.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one challenge to seek your team’s input on.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

The Difference is Why

May 3rd, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

“Average companies give their people something to work on. The most innovative organizations give their people something to work toward.”

—Simon Sinek

Why does your organization exist?

Clarity about your organization’s purpose is critical to success. If you want your employees to care, you need to have a compelling reason for them to do so. Simply making money isn’t sufficient.

Most of us long to make a difference. We want to be a part of something that is bigger than ourselves and allows us to make a meaningful contribution. As an organization and a team, you must differentiate yourself so your staff is clear about the difference they make.

Discuss why your product or service is important to your customer. How does it make their life simpler? What would happen if you weren’t hear to provide your product or service? How does what you have to offer standout from your competitors?

Once you’ve helped your team understand what sets your organization apart, link each of your employees to this purpose. Help them see how their role plays a part in the overall organization fulfilling its purpose. Ask them to what would happen if they weren’t there to complete their role.

Additionally, when assigning a task, take time to discuss how the task impacts the larger purpose. Don’t assume they understand the connection. The more you reinforce the importance of your purpose, the more meaningful it will become.

Success in today’s business world is contingent upon a workforce that is excited to come to work each day. In order to get your team excited to bring their best to work everyday devote time to helping them connect what they are doing to a purpose that is meaningful and important. When you do, sales and profits will be a natural by-product.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Clearly define the purpose your organization and team serves.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Inspire with Mission

March 29th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

“No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”

—Jack Welch

 How inspiring is your mission?

Most people prefer to have meaningful work. It’s natural to want to make a positive impact in some way. In order for your team or organization to be successful, you must help your staff focus on something bigger. Otherwise they will view it as simply a job and only due the minimum necessary.

Your organization’s success is dependent upon the engagement and commitment of your employees. You need them to bring their hearts and minds through the door each morning, not just their bodies. When your employees are fully engaged their critical thinking will improve as well as their ability to identify innovative solutions to the challenges they encounter.

On the flip side, when you have a team that is simply going through the motions, they won’t step out to take chances or solve problems. Instead they’ll simply drop their challenges in your lap and wait for you to solve them. If you create a team that blindly follows your direction and seeks your permission every step of the way, you’ll find your organization is incapable of keeping pace and your competitors will begin to pass you by.

An engaged workforce begins with a clear and compelling mission. You need to articulate the main purpose of your organization. Clearly identify how your services or products make life better or simpler for your customers. Don’t focus first and foremost on improving the bottom line. While critical to your organization’s sustainability, it isn’t your reason for being nor will it motivate your team.

Once you have clearly articulated an inspiring vision, help each member of your organization connect it to his or her role. Don’t assume they understand the connection. Help them understand how the mission would be impacted if they weren’t their to play their part.

Finally, make it a habit to discuss your mission on a regular basis. Don’t just frame it on the Board room wall never to be thought about again. Share stories about how employees have made decisions and took actions that exemplify the mission, reward those who take risks in service of the mission, and any time a decision has to be made ask how the potential solutions support the mission.

Your organization’s mission or purpose is critical to your overall success. Don’t blow off this important piece of your foundation. The more time and attention you devote to defining and discussing your mission the stronger your foundation will become. On top of this strong foundation you can build a successful organization full of energized and engaged individuals excited to do whatever they can to fulfill your mission each and every day.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Define the positive impact your service or product makes.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Hire Wisely

March 15th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

“You’re only as good as the people you hire.”

—Ray Kroc

How do you select the right people for your team?

Deciding whom to hire is potentially the most important decision you will ever make as a leader. Your success is dependent upon the ability and commitment level of your team. Without a capable and enthusiastic team you won’t achieve your goals or the organization’s goals. You must take this decision seriously in order to make strategic hires for the future rather than settling for a “warm body.”

When looking to identify a new member for your team, you need to start by challenging yourself. Look for someone who is stronger than you in one area or another. It isn’t realistic for you to be good at everything nor is it necessary to be an effective leader. Identify someone who compliments your abilities as well as the abilities of the rest of the team.

Additionally, look for an individual you won’t have to micromanage. While you’re responsible for helping them adjust to your organization and their new role, in addition to providing guidance along the way, you need to be able to trust them to fulfill their role. If you constantly have to look over an individual’s shoulder, there will be two people on your team who aren’t producing at maximum effectiveness.

Although it’s important for your new team member to have the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to do the role it’s even more important that he or she is a good cultural fit with your team and the organization as a whole. Regardless of how good their technical skills are, if they don’t get along with the team or irritate others throughout the organization, nobody will want to work with them. As people attempt to work around this individual inefficiencies and critical points of failure will begin to emerge.

Finally, look for someone who is passionate about the work you do.  Whether they get excited about the product you’re creating, the service you provide, or the people you impact it’s critical that they have a sense of enthusiasm for what they are doing. Otherwise, you will likely discover that they’re simply showing up for the paycheck. Without a sense of passion the individual will never go beyond what is defined in the job description nor take the extra steps to develop innovative ideas and ensure a first rate customer experience.

Each time you’re faced with a hiring decision, approach it as a strategic decision that could affect your team and organization for several years. The worst thing you can do is rush the process. Although you are likely overwhelmed due to the vacant position, don’t allow yourself to become desperate. If you settle for too many “warm bodies” you just might find that you’re the one interviewing for a new job.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify the complimentary skills you need as well as the attributes that would make a potential candidate a good cultural fit.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Leaders Maximize the Talent of their Teams

February 8th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

“A successful person finds the right place for himself. But a successful leader finds the right place for others.” -John Maxwell

How are you helping your employees maximize their talent?

As a leader, it’s your responsibility to cultivate the talent of your team. You need to understand and accept that each member of your team is a unique individual and it’s your job to capitalize on the talents and strengths they bring to the table.

You must first be able to recognize the talents of your various team members. Most people aren’t very good at recognizing their talents. Because these aspects of ourselves come so naturally, we take them for granted and assume they aren’t that important.

As a leader you need to be on the look out for evidence of talent and share your observations with your team members to help them appreciate the impact they make. Additionally, spend time coaching them to explore what tasks they enjoy as well as which ones come very naturally and effortlessly to them. Help your team identify how they feel while doing these tasks and why they enjoy them.

Once you’ve helped your employees begin to recognize their talents search for opportunities for them to develop their talents. You might send them to a conference or seminar where they can acquire knowledge or develop skills that will help them apply their talents. Or you could provide them with new assignments to give them an opportunity to apply their talents in new ways.

Finally, you need to take a few steps back and consider how to leverage all of the talents on your team. This could possibly entail rearranging the way work is completed in order to allow different individuals on your team to play to their strengths. As you become more aware of the talents on your team, you might even realize there is a need for some new roles. Your team might just have the talents necessary to address a unique need for your organization and/or customers.

Finally, you could come to the conclusion that the best opportunity for one of your team members to maximize their talents is to move on to another position either within or outside your organization. Good leaders realize that what is best for this individual is best for the organization. When they actively support an individual making the move that is right for them, these leaders demonstrate that they put their team first and create an environment of trust.

It’s the responsibility of a leader to nurture the talent of their team. The best leaders are adept at recognizing, developing, and leveraging talent in a way that achieves results and creates a foundation of trust.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one talent in each of your team members.

Make it an excellent week.

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC