Go from being an average leader to being a great leader, with the practical steps outlined in this course.
“Mr. Mears was rated "superior" as a speaker, both for substance and delivery, receiving some of the strongest ratings and commentary in the history of the PTSS (other speakers include senior NATO, U.S. State Department and FBI officials).” - Official from the International Center for Security Studies
“Excellent, engaging lecture. Brought real-world insights to the leadership materials presented.” – Lecture attendee
Have you ever considered what makes the best leaders receive the respect and admiration of those they work with? How is it that years later, people still refer to them as one of the greats? How did they establish their leadership legacy?
In this course we explore four sets of leadership behaviors that will take you from being a good leader to being a great leader. These simple behaviors can be adopted quickly, but impact people in tremendous ways. We will look at what makes bad leaders so ineffective, and how to break bad leadership habits.
These lessons are a purely practical approach to leadership, based on the latest neuroscience, and over 30 years of research and coaching in leadership.
Mike Mears started CIA’s Leadership Academy, he studied leadership at West Point and Harvard Business School. He is also a published author on Leadership, and does coaching on leadership internationally.
Administration involves the routine and transactional, management is getting things done, and leadership is "inspiring others to do their job better."
In times of change, you will need to shift from your administration and management duties to apply more leadership to overcome change resistance.
Think about the difference in these two Majors at West Point. The first Major tried to connect with logic and had no positive impact on the cadets. The second Major developed an emotional connection by signaling he valued the cadets' opinions and ideas. Then he levered that emotional connection to push the cadets (and your instructor!) to perform better.
Emotions general overpower logic in the brain. Good leadership is powerful because it generates strong positive emotions in others.
Remember, our simple definition is, "inspiring others to do their job better."
Numerous values describe good bosses and bad bosses. A good boss may be humble, selfless, and fair, but the behaviors behind these descriptors have more meaning than these words alone. In upcoming lessons you will see what these behaviors are.
The common trait among all bad bosses is a lack of self awareness.
Someone who demonstrates good leadership early on will likely remain a good leader. Traits are part of a person, and they usually remain constant through time. With some hard work, good leaders can adopt some behaviors to become great leaders.
The worst leaders have psychopathic tendencies, they reject feedback, and they are impossible to change.
We all suffer from some lack of self awareness but bad bosses suffer from an extreme amount. That's why they see oblivious to all the pain they inflict and that's why they reject feedback and don't try to improve their leadership skills..
Congratulations, you are not a bad leader because you have an interest in becoming a better leader and are taking this course!
Good leadership is powerful because employees report 30 to 1 that it produces better performance. If the goal is improving organizational performance, we should all strive to boost our leadership skills.
It's important that you think up several stories you can use to make leadership points with others. Stories are:
TIPS: Make you stories concise (2-5 minutes), make a solid leadership point, include some struggle or conflict, use vivid language, never make yourself the hero, and practice.
Bonus: When you give or get feedback project it into the future not the past. The receiver's brain thinks it is getting help rather than blame.
The four leadership behaviors are:
Once you establish patterns of Value-Give-Invite-Connect, then you can us a fifth behavior, Nudge. A nudge is any polite way of challenging better performance.
Three things block us from carrying out these simple leadership behaviors: Cognizance, Distraction, and Habit.
Cognizance is a catch all for everything psychological: your personality, your level of self awareness, and a whole array of human cognitive biases. The first rule of leadership is "Know Thyself," so the antidote for this barrier is getting realistic feedback, taking psychological assessments, and reflecting.
Distraction comes from all things unimportant like e-mail and meetings. It's a global and growing managerial problem. Antidotes: Everyone is in the same boat so mutually discuss e-mail and meeting truces, Set 15 to 20 minutes aside on your calendar for carrying out the four leadership behaviors, and google time saving best practices in high performing organizations. Use them all to take a bite out of this monster.
Habits are a huge leadership barrier. Your brain does not want you to break a habit, so trick it. Antidote: Perform your leadership behaviors in the morning when will power is strongest, take small steps at first, and use visuals to track and goad yourself, such as progress boards, check lists, or to-do lists.
NB: Overcoming these three barriers is crucial to you becoming a great leader!
Practicing a few simple behaviors that show you value others can have a big impact in injecting safety in the workplace. Anything you can do to acknowledge others or show empathy is good. These behaviors don't take much time because they involve small gestures such as:
Saying hello to employees every morning
Smiling at people in the hall
Using a little levity
Showing a level of concern for individual employees
If employees aren't creative enough or taking sufficient levels of risk, it's usually because of a shortage of these gestures. As basic as these behaviors are, they are important as a foundation or precursor for trust building. (We discuss trust building behaviors in Lecture 9.) Make sure you fill out the attached to-dos and them practice them when you go to work tomorrow.
Don't you crave a small piece of the action? We all have a strong drive to be included and and any form of exclusion lowers morale, satisfaction, and performance. Invite employees to participate in meetings or strategy sessions. Where appropriate, invite them into planning and decision making. They will be charged and excited and you'll get better results.
Many times employees won't volunteer, so ask them questions to get their input and ideas every chance you get.
Try these behaviors out – they don't cost you any time – and watch how morale and engagement improve.
The law of reciprocity describes a powerful concept in psychology and anthropology. When someone gives you something, you feel obligated to give something back. When humans repeat give and take consistently, they build trust. A great leader has many "gifts" at hand to offer: knowledge, time, expertise, vision, opportunity and so forth.
The key to successful trust building is to consciously think about which gifts you will give to which employee everyday, and then doing it. If you are consistent, trust will build over the next few months.
Sometimes you have to lecture and sometimes you have to e-mail, but minimize these where you can and have more face-to-face conversations with employees. Daily casual conversations fill a strong human need and are too infrequently used in today's hectic work place.
Intentional conversations, those in which you go into deeper subjects, are important as well. And don't forget the power of stories, and good questions followed by intense listening,
Adjust all of this slightly to fit your employees – your extroverts crave a little more and your introverts a little less.
Once you have given your employees' gifts, connected with them, engaged them in deep conversations, and shown you value them, you have build safety, trust, and clarity in their minds. Congratulations. Your employees are engaged!
Remember the Kellogg story because it shows the might of an energized employee. That's why you are practicing these behaviors, to improve performance.
A few of Mike's favorite books include, the Human Side of Enterprise, Crucial Conversations, Strengthsfinder 2.0, and Leadership Elements.
Don't forget to download your Periodic Table of Leadership, your Golden Offer, and go visit Leadership Island!
Neuroscientist at UCLA are study strong negative emotions they call social pain. When people experience social pain, brain scans show the logical portion of the shuts down as the emotional part flairs up. Bad bosses frequently trigger the three sources of social pain:
Bad leadership is costly because the employee brains the organization pays for are underperforming. To be a great leader, you need to practice the four great leader behaviors AND not inadvertently inflict social pain.
Influence is similar to trust building. The law of reciprocity is the foundation of both of these. Don't try to influence everybody, only those who can block you. Proactively practice targeted reciprocity, i.e. constructively help them.
You can think of great leadership as 4 + 1 behaviors because there is a required order . Your first four behaviors build safety trust, and clarity, after all valuing others, inviting participation, giving, and connecting to employees with deep communication is what energizes and engages employees. But leadership is more than inspiration so you want to apply a Nudge or challenge to take advantage of the higher energy level the four behaviors created . One mistake many new managers make is challenging employees first before preparing employees for the challenge.
The second rule is make sure you don't inflict social pain with your challenge. That means you take special care to avoid humiliating, assaulting status, giving any perception of unfairness, and inadvertently creating a feeling of loss of control for your employees.
Examples of good nudges include:
Giving homework: "Please get back to me in a week with three good improvement ideas." Always try to give employees a heads up.
When asking and employee come to your office, let them know the subject of the discussion. That reduces angst.
Use fair and clear accountability approaches such as simple, mutually agreed upon metrics and milestones.
Ask open ended questions, and use guiding principles rather than rules.
Use positive follow-up to ensure the nudge is working.
Almost all managers say they want good leadership but if you work in a traditional organization, it's usually only jaw-boning, and they won't actively support you. You face two organizational monsters somewhat alone: 1) culture and 2) the management chain.
Culture is 'the way we do things around here' and is the most powerful force in organizations – think of culture as organizational habit and recall how hard habit is to break from Lecture XX. (Most executive efforts at reorganization and change fail because they ignore culture.) If you lead well in an old-line organization (and most of us do), you risk "rocking the boat." It's crucial to practice the behaviors, it's just that you may not want to widely advertise what you are doing. Stealth leadership can work in the stodgiest of organizations as you gradually build ties with other like-minded stealth leaders.
The management chain stretching from the top executive down to you can inadvertently get in the way of good leadership as well. Communications and intent don't flow well up or down because of the 'telephone game,' opposing leadership philosophies, management turnover, and/or a frightfully bad boss somewhere in the chain.
Have faith! Despite these impediments, practice the four behaviors and you can overcome them and create a healthy micro-culture in your workplace!
Day in and day out, It’s the little behaviors that that make a great leader. Notice how the best bosses are warmly remembered for years. That is my hope for you. Follow the four behaviors, and avoid the habits and shortcomings of bad bosses, and be a great leader . . . and leave a great legacy.
Mike Mears started CIA’s Leadership Academy, he studied leadership at West Point and Harvard Business School. He is also a published author on Leadership, and does leadership consulting internationally.
He does keynote addresses, breakout sessions, and seminars. He uses a highly interactive approach even with groups of 300 and more.
Mike has a colorful background. He is a retired CIA executive engaged in consulting, training, and professional speaking on management and leadership topics. He draws from his past public and private sector and military experiences to include his experience as:
Chief of Human Capital, CIA
Turnaround specialist for GE
Entrepreneur (11 start-ups)
Decorated Vietnam Veteran