Colin's Blog

3 Ways Your Ego Can Cost You

ego-costsBeing a powerful leader takes strength, intelligence, experience, and a lot of self-confidence. Yet there’s a fine line between having a solid ego and being arrogant to the point of actually hurting your team, your goals, and your company.

There are several ways that your ego can cost you, but the top three are:

1. Loss of faith in your leadership abilities.

2. Creating conflict.

3. Failing to recognize internal problems.

Loss of Faith in Your Leadership Abilities

Everyone makes mistakes. No matter how many years you have been operating within your industry, no matter how much training you have or awards you’ve earned, you will make mistakes from time to time. They may be minor but they can also be quite significant.

If you have a bloated ego, you might not be willing to acknowledge those mistakes. In fact, you may skirt responsibility because you’re simply too good, too important, too talented to have to accept responsibility.

Your team members won’t be fooled. They may not say anything directly, but they will lose faith in your leadership abilities, knowing that your ego is getting in the way.

Creating Conflict

It’s no secret that people who are arrogant tend to have more confrontational personalities. When you have a strong ego, you believe that almost everything you say or do is right, which will put you at odds with others in your organization.

If you can’t set your ego aside, then you’re going to increase the number of conflicts that you face within your organization. It could be outward or passive, but conflict is still a destructive force for everyone involved.

Failing to Recognize Internal Problems

When you have a bloated ego, you will assume that everything is going as well as it could, and should, be. That often blinds us to the realities that surround us every day. Step back and recognize that there could be internal problems.

And they may be cause by you.

If you want to improve your leadership skills, you’ll need to understand the time and place for your strong ego to rear its head and when to put it aside. If you can’t, then your ego is going to cost you.

Emotionally Connect With Those You Lead

emotional-cannectionThere’s a lot to be said about emotions in business. For some, emotions can be a hindrance. For others, they can be an asset. For those who aim to become powerful leaders, emotions are the foundations to the connections you establish.

There are many different emotions that you experience throughout your life. The average person will experience anxiety, sadness, joy, relief, happiness, anticipation, and more. No matter what business you run, no matter whether you’re the CEO or mid-level manager, learning to emotionally connect to the people you lead can have a potent impact on the company and those who work for you.

Often we point to the sports world to highlight the impact of different things on employees as well as leaders. This is because the political world is full of negativity and corruption. On a serious note, though, the sports world can teach us a great deal about success through teamwork and that can make it easier to understand the fundamentals of leadership.

If you’ve ever noticed a team that plays with ‘emotion,’ they may not be the most talented, but they often compete hard and win. That’s because when someone is emotionally invested in something, they care more about the outcome.

When you emotionally connect with those you lead, they take notice. They will care more about you as their leader and subsequently the goals you’ve set forth. This doesn’t mean that you have to become friends with your employees; that’s actually the wrong approach.

What it refers to is getting to know your team members. Understand what drives them, what causes them to lose sleep at night, or what inspires them. Find out what restaurants they prefer or what products matter most to them. You can use these as rewards (such as giving a team member a gift card to his or her favorite restaurant when they achieve a certain goal).

When your team members realize that you take a vested interest in them as individuals, they will be inspired to do more to help you, which is to achieve the company or department goals.

It’s not easy for some people to emotionally connect with others, especially coworkers. Don’t feel that you need to let them tell you all of their personal problems, but when they do share, listen. It’s this emotional connection that truly separates leaders from the rest of the business world.

Small Business Owners Benefit from Leadership Coaching, Too

business-goalOne of the most common mistakes that businessmen and businesswomen make with regard to considering leadership coaching is that they believe it’s only meant for executives and managers in larger corporations.

This is not true at all.

Leadership coaching can benefit anyone, from the small business owner to the corporate CEO. It can even help the stay at home mom or dad!

There are many ways in which a small business owner can benefit from leadership coaching.

Learning to set goals more effectively.

When you own a small business, you’re likely in charge of almost every aspect of its operations. Whether you have one employee or ten, you may control the finances, ordering, payroll, scheduling, and much more. Those are a lot of hats to wear and it can take its toll on you.

It can also make it more challenging to figure out what type of goals to set for the business. Leadership coaching can help you understand the importance of solid, achievable goals and how to establish them for your business.

Establish a foundation of trust and integrity.

You may be an honest and hard working individual, but do your customers know that? What about your employees?

If you are a manager, especially a micromanager, you will come across as ruling with an iron fist. People won’t trust you, you’ll have less time to devote to your clients, and this will make it more challenging to establish trust and integrity among the people who matter most to your business.

Understand how to motivate others in a positive way.

There are two basic ways that we can motivate people: through inspiration or through intimidation.

Leaders choose the former while managers tend to focus on the latter. When you motivate people in a more positive way, they will be more willing to work harder to achieve the goals that you set forth already.

Most people want to enjoy their job, and when you have the right leadership skills, you will help to create a positive working environment. That will, in turn, have a positive impact on your customers, support, and all other aspects of your business.

5 Advantages of Team Coaching and Why You Should Pay Attention

whistle2If you are “on the fence” about team coaching, you may not truly understand the advantages that this can offer you. Team coaching can not only help you and your team achieve greater goals, it can also improve productivity and efficiency.

The five advantages of team coaching that you should pay attention to are:

  • Builds team commitment
  • Increases chances of reaching goals
  • Boosts knowledge and proficiency
  • Fosters accountability
  • Accelerates results

Builds team commitment

If your team members are not committed to the team goals, it can make achieving those goals more challenging for the rest of the team. Team coaching helps the leader recruit and find the right team members and formulate a plan that will maximize the opportunities for success.

Increases chances of reaching goals

The common goals that team members have are what motivates them to work for those goals. When you have proper team coaching, you will be more attuned to assembling a group of like-minded individuals who are more willing to work together to achieve the organization’s goals.

Boosts knowledge and proficiency

Team coaching can help boost knowledge and proficiency among the team members. We learn best through our mistakes, and with team coaching you will learn better ways to help your team members acknowledge their mistakes and improve their performance as a result.

Fosters accountability

Both the team leader and the team members need to be accountable for their actions. Through team coaching, you will learn to foster more accountability within yourself as well as among your team members. Each team member may require a different approach to help them be more accountable. Team coaching helps with this.

Accelerates results

When you have team coaching working with you, it will help to accelerate results. When you just try to “wing it,” you increase the chances of making mistakes and flailing. This, in turn, increases the chances that your team will miss its target goals.

There are many other advantages to team coaching and when you pay attention to the advice that you receive from a team coach, it will have a positive impact on not only your leadership abilities, but your overall team and results as well.

The True Value of Honesty as a Leader

honestyBeing a leader is about possessing a number of characteristics and qualities, stepping up when it’s needed, and honesty. Even though the business, political, or cultural world may seem to be hotbeds of dishonest people getting ahead, there’s a difference between being a leader and being someone who is only out for his or her own self interests.

Establish Your Identity Now

It’s up to you regarding what you want to be. You can either be a leader who values teamwork, accomplishing goals, and honesty or you can be someone who is willing to climb their respective ladder to success using any means necessary.

Before you go any further down this road into leadership, it’s essential that you establish your true identity now. Is honesty going to be one of the foundational cornerstones or is it only going to be a characteristic worth having when it doesn’t interfere with you getting what you want?

Your Teams Rely on Honesty and Integrity

It’s a matter of trust for you, for your team members, and for those higher up the food chain than you are at this point in time. When people lose faith in their leaders, when they feel that they can no longer trust them, then it’s going to me more challenging to get them to believe in a goal or to accept that what they do will actually make a difference.

This doesn’t mean that you have to share every personal detail with the people who surround you, but when it comes to goals, mistakes, and other facets, when you cover things up, embellish truths, or otherwise lie it will undermine your ability to lead later on.

When people lose faith in those who are leading them, they will be less motivated to support them. They won’t work as hard as they would have if they still believed in their leader. They won’t have the same vested interest in the organization’s –or leader’s- goals as they did before.

When faced with confrontations, moral dilemmas, or any question of integrity, the kneejerk reaction is to lie and cover up one’s culpability. Own them. While it may be more difficult in the short-term to navigate through the situation, your team members will ultimately respect you for it in the long-term and that will prop you up as more effective and powerful leader as a result.

Positivity in Abundance

“Dear Colin, I have recently received feedback from my clientele about my writing style. I have been told that the style of my writing depends on the mood I’m in. Lately, I have been stressed and have found myself to be rushed and impatient, which in turn, has created a negative writing style and impression. How can I improve my writing and make it more positive?”

Healthy Recipe of the Month:
Tofu spinach salad with cabbage, feta, spinach and chia seeds

spinach-tofu-saladCLICK HERE FOR THE RECIPE

Positive writing is a very effective tool for business professionals. Writing with a positive style will enhance your relationships by changing attitudes that you may have already created; shifting yourself and others to a proactive outlook; and generally accentuating an eagerness for others to want to work collaboratively with you.

The mindset of writing positively can be a challenge if you are finding yourself stressed or in a negative mood. Putting your mindset in a constructive mood through positivity and being in a state of stillness will definitely put you on the right path.

I have found the technique of positive affirmation to be a powerful tool. Taking the same approach as stillness (see our July 2014 newsletter – Stillness ) and removing your negative thoughts from the equation. Start the process of creating a positive affirmation by writing down positive thoughts on accomplishing a new goal like losing weight. Write down what you like about your body, then add how losing some weight will enhance what your lifestyle.

Here are a few other exercises that will help you practice positive thinking and creating among other things, a positive writing style.

  • Write a thank you note or a letter of gratitude to someone who has had a positive impact on you. A personal touch will be genuinely appreciated since most notes are sent electronically. Consider delivering the letter in person.
  • Before you go to sleep set aside a few minutes to write down three things that went well for you that day. Beside each item, write a quick explanation about how you (and others) made each a special moment.
Work on your positive affirmation and positive writing style over the next month of more. With conscious effort you will see a shift in how you approach your work and your life. And others will too!

Tofu Spinach Salad (with cabbage, feta, spinach and chia seeds)

spinach-tofu-saladThe Holbrow Group – Healthy Recipe of the Month

In a separate bowl:

  • Chop the cabbage into small pieces and add 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar and 1tsp of honey (let this marinate while putting together the rest of the salad)

In another bowl:

  • Chop the feta cheese into cups or however you like to have it served over your salad
  • Make sure the spinach is washed before placing in the bowl (grab 1-2 handfuls)
  • 2 tbsp of chia seeds
  • Cut an avocado in half and scoop the pit out. Slice into small cubes. (make sure not to toss the avocado around too much so its doesn’t turn to mush)

While putting together the salad

  • Chop the tofu into small cubes and cook on the stove until golden brown add a dash of olive and garlic powder to add flavour (make sure to buy extra firm Tofu) this can be substituted with chicken as well!

Once everything is ready to go, add the ingredients together and toss into a large bowl and mix

  • Add a handful of cilantro
  • Drizzle some balsamic on top and a hint of salt!


Taking Time to Reflect Daily to Improve Leadership Skills

emulate-behaviorWhen you don’t take time to think about things that you did throughout the day, then it’s going to be that much more difficult to improve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about relationships, anger issues, or even leadership skills.

Reflection is one of the best ways to improve leadership skills. No matter how busy you are during the day, still find time to be alone, in a quiet environment where you can think about the events that transpired during the day.

Make sure it’s a quiet location.

You can take this time when you’re at home, still at the office, or even stuck in traffic, but it should be a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted by others. Turn off the phone, lock the door, and tell anyone around you that you want to be undisturbed for at least 10 to 15 minutes.

Work through your entire day.

Start with the moment you woke up. Replay your day as smoothly and quickly as possible. Even getting dressed in the morning and helping your kids get ready for school can offer lessons that are vital to leadership skills.

You should be able to pinpoint at least two to three things that didn’t go quite right during the day. No matter how you handled the situation, these are the things that you should focus on most.

Determine where you succeeded and where you could have done better as a leader.

Take an honest assessment of each situation. Determine how you succeeded in being a leader and then also ways in which you could have done something different. Every day there are going to be teaching moments for just about everything in life.

This is usually one of the most challenging aspects to improving leadership skills: self assessment. Most people tend to either be too hard or too easy on themselves and neither scenario is going to be ideal, though being too easy on yourself will generally offer you less opportunity for growth.

During that time of reflection, imagine doing things differently. Try to determine how the outcome could have changed if you acted differently. This can often help leaders improve their skills and grow stronger. Reflection will only truly work best when it is done daily, consistently.

‘My Mistake.’ Why Leaders become Stronger through Adversity

adversity-growthThere are a couple of phrases that some people rely on to explain the difference between an individual who attended college and one who went right to work out of high school. They are: book smarts vs. street smarts.

One doesn’t make a particular individual better than another, nor does one imply better potential or performance. However, there is a reason why companies prefer employees to have prior experience when hiring, rather than simply looking for those with college diplomas in their hand.

Learning a great deal of information in textbooks and a classroom setting can certainly provide a stronger base of knowledge, but it doesn’t replace actual real world experience.

On top of that, most people have a tendency to learn more from their mistakes than from actual instruction. Think about when you were a child and your mother or father scolded you or warned you to not go near the stove. It didn’t matter whether it was on or not because the elements –though looking cool- could still be hot. Still, many kids either didn’t listen or didn’t understand the big deal until they burn themselves for the first time.

Once the child is burned, he or she remembers and won’t go near the stove, or will use caution when they do.

The same premise is true when you’re talking about leadership skills. Great Leaders don’t get mad when their team members make mistakes (or they shouldn’t get angry) because they understand that people learn best through adversity and making mistakes.

It’s also true for leaders. If you make a mistake, own up to it. We tend to be programmed to believe confessing to a mistake will bring the pink slip, the demotion, or some other reprimand, but it also brings an incredible learning opportunity.

When you own up to your mistakes, people respect you more. Team members will be more willing to support you and upper management will keep an eye on you, not because they’re worried that you’ll do it again, but because you have integrity.

Mistakes are not major problems unless you hide from responsibility or try to blame others. True leaders own their mistakes and that helps them grow and improve.

When Facing a Moral Dilemma, the Leader Shines Through

leaders-shineNo matter what type of work you do, once in a while you may be faced with a moral dilemma. Your immediate supervisor may want you to manipulate some figures to make it appear that the department or the company is doing better than it actually is.

You may have given a friend or colleague with whom you get along a pass when he or she showed up late for work a couple of times, but now you have a similar situation with someone else.

No matter what type of moral dilemma a person faces, the more leadership skills he or she possesses, the more likely they will shine through during these situations. This doesn’t mean that everything is going to work out justly or the way that you hope, but when you possess those valuable and powerful leadership skills, you will be in a better position to resolve the problem.

This is made possible through a variety of processes. First, when you have leadership abilities, you take the time to get to know your team members. You pay attention to the goals of the company. You are willing to accept responsibility for your actions. Those all indicate an individual who can handle any moral dilemma.

Second, leadership skills build your presence within any organization up, helping you to earn more respect throughout the company or the organization. When that happens, you will be more likely to gain the support of those working with and for you.

Finally, leadership skills help you develop a solid plan moving forward and to adjust to changes in the landscape. When you have better vision, you can find more viable solutions that help you avoid moral dilemmas that can easily trip up someone with only managerial or basic level skills.

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