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

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

Embrace Abnormal

April 19th, 2015 § 6 comments § permalink

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” —Maya Angelou

Are you hiding behind normality?

You have a choice to make. Either you can decide to play it safe and follow the crowd. Or, you can choose to embrace what makes you unique and the gifts you have to offer. Normality is a myth and success depends upon your willingness to affirm who you are and what you have to offer.

It takes courage to be true to yourself. As you step out and let the real you shine through, there’s always a risk that others aren’t going to like you. Even those closest to you might not agree with your beliefs or approach. However, no matter what you do there will always be someone that doesn’t care for you. The greater risk is living a life of mediocrity.

A seed of potential exists within every one of us.  Unless we’re willing to take the necessary steps to cultivate our potential it will never blossom. The first step is to become clear about who you are.  Discover your passions, values, and strengths so you understand the impact you want to make.

Once you have this foundation of self-awareness in place you can begin to develop your potential. Actively look for opportunities to use your strengths. Start sharing your desires with close family, friends, and colleagues to see what ideas they might offer for practicing your strengths. The more you experiment the more clarity you will have about what is a best fit for you. Additionally, you will continue to refine your strengths.

Accept that it’s okay not to be normal. The concept of being normal is a myth and only exists when people continue to feed the belief that we have to fit in to some popularly accepted norm. No body is normal. We are each unique with our own set of strengths, challenges, desires, and fears. Recognize that these are the things that make you amazing and embrace who you truly are. Then you can begin the path to happiness, success, and fulfillment.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify three strengths you possess and share one of them with someone.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC



Keep Moving Forward

March 22nd, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.”

—Chinese Proverb

What are you doing to continue your growth?

Every year it seems as if the pace of change increases exponentially. In order to keep up, it’s critical to ensure you continue to make forward progress. There’s no such thing as standing still, you’re either moving forward or falling backwards.

One of the books I read in graduate school was We Are All Self Employed by Cliff Hakim. Hakim’s premise that we all enter into a contract with our employer, which can be revoked by either one of us at any time, had a big impact on me. There are no guarantees and we never know when our contract will come to an end.

Rather than worrying about if, or when, that day will come, you need to focus your energy on continuing to refine your knowledge and skills. Luckily there are many different approaches you can take allowing you to grow as quickly or slowly as you want.

One option you might explore is to earn a new certification. Whether you’re in HR, IT, project management, or health care there are often a variety of certifications you can earn to expand both your knowledge and skills. You could also choose to go back to school for a degree or simply attend a course that is of interest to you.

Another approach is to seek out a new project to work on within your organization. Look for an opportunity that will allow you to play to your strengths yet challenge you to apply them in either a new way or in a new domain. Gaining exposure and working with a different area of the business or industry will not only add to your knowledge base it will make you better at your core responsibilities.

Looking to challenge yourself to learn how to handle difficult situations more effectively or enhance your people management and/or influencing skills, then you might want to work with a mentor or coach. He or she can help you step back and consider different perspectives as you navigate challenging situations. This is also a great strategy if you are looking to develop and implement a vision for yourself and/or your team.

Finally, you could choose to pick-up a new hobby or read a book about a new topic that appeals to you. Taking the time to develop a new skill or read about a new topic will challenge you to use your brain in new ways. Again, you’ll probably find that through this experience you make connections back to your professional life, which will make you a better employee.

Change is inevitable but growth is optional. There is nothing you can do to stop it, yet you don’t want to allow yourself to get passed by either. Challenge yourself to learn something new this year and keep moving forward, no matter how slowly.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one strategy you are going to implement in 2015 to grow.

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

Rely on Inner Confidence

March 1st, 2015 § 8 comments § permalink

“He who is plenteously provided for from within, needs but little from without.” —Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Do you trust yourself?

I believe confidence is the single most important ingredient to anyone’s success. Without at least a modest measure of confidence in your talents and skills you’ll find it difficult to take the action necessary to achieve your goals in life. Rather than simply sitting back and depending on other people to provide you direction, you need to believe in yourself and chart your own path.

One of the worst things you can to do is to seek personal validation from those around you. We all need to feel like we’re supported and it feels good to be praised by our managers, peers, friends and families. However, we won’t always receive the praise we seek. If you stake your sense of worth and accomplishment on the praise of others, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. You may also create a self-fulfilling prophecy in which you continue to place more emphasis on your desire to be praised only to be repeatedly disappointed.

Your best source of confidence comes from within. Start by becoming crystal clear about your personal talents and strengths. Everyone has talent and you’re not an exception. The problem is that you likely take your talents for granted and don’t think they’re very important. This simply isn’t true. Step back and think about the tasks, behaviors, and ways of thinking that come very naturally to you. These are indications of areas of talent for you. Also take stock of all the knowledge and skills you have acquired over your lifetime. You’ll be amazed at how much you truly know.

Next, identify all of your accomplishments. Think about all the different jobs you’ve had and identify the projects you worked on, the problems you helped solve, or the customers you helped. However, don’t limit yourself to professional accomplishments. Think about the sports teams or clubs you were on in school as well as any community groups you have participated in. Every one of these experiences is a ripe source of accomplishments, talents, knowledge, and skill.

Finally, once you’ve identified all of your personal talents, knowledge, skill, and accomplishments it’s important to capture it all on paper. This isn’t the time to be modest! Capture in as much detail as you can, what you did, how it made a difference, and what talents you brought to the table. Also, think about the feedback you’ve been given from others. What praise have you received? What talent did others acknowledge you for? Capture all of this in the same document.

Whenever you’re feeling a little discouraged, open this document and review all that you’ve accomplished in your life. Relive the moments in which you felt successful and remind yourself that you have more than enough ability to persevere through whatever challenge you are facing. Make it a practice to revisit this document once a month to add any new accomplishments or feedback you have received.

If you want to be successful in life, then you have to be prepared to follow the path that is right for you. No one can tell you what is right for you, so the decision is completely yours. You have to believe in yourself. Achieving success isn’t easy and you are bound to stumble along the way but when you possess a reservoir of inner confidence you’ll always be able to pick yourself up and get back on the path.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Create your personal “Inner Confidence” document.

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

Life is an Adventure

January 25th, 2015 § 4 comments § permalink

“An original life is unexplored territory. You don’t get there by taking a taxi, you get there by carrying a canoe.”  —Alan Alda

Are you charting your own course?

Life isn’t a guided tour. You can’t sit back and wait for someone to point out the direction you need to take. You’re the captain of your life and it’s up to you decide who you want to be, what you want to do, and take action to achieve the life of your dreams.

Your path is unique. There’s value in listening to others share about their experience and lessons learned. Although you can likely learn a lot from those who have gone before you, they can’t speak to what is right for you. Only you can determine what is right for you.

You have a responsibility to design a life that is right for you. You’re unique and here for a reason. Make time to get clear about your strengths and define the impact you want to make with your life. Once you have this clarity, you need to take action and use your strengths to be of service to others.

I believe you’ll experience fulfillment from being the authentic you. Once you begin to live your unique life, and make your unique contribution to the world, you’ll be filled with a sense of satisfaction and contentment.

That’s not to say your life will be nothing but smooth water from that point forward. You’ll inevitably experience some rough rapids, demanding courage and the willingness to make course corrections along the way.  Rely on your strengths and authentic self to guide you back on track.

The world needs what you have to offer. Everyone benefits when you are able use your strengths to be of service. Are you ready to pick-up your canoe and chart your own course?

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one action you can take to become the captain of your life.

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

A Leader’s Top Responsibility

January 11th, 2015 § 6 comments § permalink


“The responsibility of leadership is not to come up with all the ideas but to create an environment in which great ideas can thrive.” – Simon Sinek

What type of environment have you created within your team?

Effective leadership isn’t about giving orders or having all the answers. Although this might have been acceptable 30 years ago, it’s a recipe for failure today. Success as a leader depends on your ability to maximize the talent of your team in order to achieve results.

The key to getting the most out of your team begins with the environment you create. An increasingly complex business world leads to increased specialization. It’s no longer realistic to expect to be able to stay current on the latest knowledge and skills all by yourself. You must develop a team of empowered individuals you can rely on to be the experts in their respective areas.

However, you can’t just tell your staff that they’re empowered. Effective delegation requires you to clearly outline the objectives and parameters (keeping them as wide as possible) while allowing your team to determine the best route to take. It’s also ineffective to take a “hands off” approach. I’ve seen many leaders attempt to avoid micro-management by moving to the other extreme, failing to provide their team the support they need. Make it a point to check-in with your staff along the way to see how they’re doing and help address any obstacles in their way.

In addition to delegating to your team, it’s critical to spend time coaching them. When they run into obstacles don’t simply tell them what to do, rather ask questions to help them identify their options. This will challenge them to slow down and improve their critical thinking. It’s also important to coach when a task you delegated doesn’t go well, which is inevitable. Use open-ended questions to help your team consider what didn’t work and what can be learned from the situation.

Finally, seek and offer feedback to your team to help them grow. When you’re facing a challenge, ask for their ideas. They’re the ones doing the work every day and likely have several ideas about how to make improvements or new innovations. Also be sure to provide them feedback about their performance. Recognize their accomplishments and how their strengths make a positive impact on the team. And when they are struggling, coach them to figure out how to improve.

Your most important role as a leader is to create the environment in which your team can fulfill it’s potential. In Simon Sinek’s TED Talk: Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe, Sinek comments that when leaders fail to create the right conditions we’re forced to spend time and energy protecting ourselves which weakens the organization. When you create an environment in which your team is acknowledged for their strengths and empowered to make a difference, trust and collaboration are a natural by-product.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one action you can take to create an environment that fosters trust and collaboration.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Hire Up

July 27th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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

What do you look for in a candidate?

Hiring the right individuals for your team is an art. Sometimes you’ll hit the mark and occasionally you’ll come up short. The key is to ensure you are looking for the right qualities. Do you want a candidate with high energy who hopes to have your role some day or will you settle for a warm body that appears to have experience you want?

Who you select to join your team is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a leader. Surrounding yourself with the right mix of talent and mindsets directly impacts your team’s ability to excel. If you hire individuals content with the bare minimum, your team will never exceed the standards you’ve established. Additionally, without anyone thinking around the corner about how to solve tomorrow’s problems, innovation will be non-existent.

On a personal level, without the right team in place your ability to get promoted will be thwarted. When you can’t trust your team to take initiative you’ll be reluctant to delegate increasingly challenging tasks. Without these opportunities to stretch themselves, they’ll never develop the skills necessary to become a leader. Although you may strive to move up within the organization, you’ll be seen as a micro-manager who doesn’t know how to develop leaders and promotional opportunities will simply slip away.

Challenge yourself to hire people who are better than you. Maybe they’re smarter or have more experience. They might be strong in an area where you are weak. If you aren’t great with technology, hire someone that is and provide them opportunities to shine. As you build a team of individuals with complimentary strengths, give them opportunities to make an impact on the organization and you’ll be amazed at what your team can accomplish.

You must let go of your fear of losing control. It’s natural to feel a little uneasy about delegating and trusting your staff to use their strengths. However, the more control you try to exert the less you actually have. True success as a leader is determined by your team’s accomplishments. Your job is to develop a team of individuals prepared to step up and take initiative when needed while simultaneously working effectively with their teammates. Settling for the first warm body that walks through the door will keep you mired in mediocrity.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify the skill sets and mindsets you are looking for on your team.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC