Visit Our Store December 6, 2011

In This Issue:
The Edge that Sets You Apart
The Gift: Keeping People on Track
Hostile Takeover: Hostile Attitude

The Edge that Sets You Apart

What gives successful leaders the edge over everyone else? Top performing entrepreneurs all share some of the same core qualities. And what are they?

Perhaps they were raised in an environment that valued education. Or maybe they were naturally smarter than their classmates. Actually, the hidden skill that determined their success was their ability to adapt.

The skill set associated with successful adaptability includes spontaneous control, scale recognition, and long-term perspective.

Let’s take a look at each of these qualities, and how they are used by highly adaptable people.

Spontaneous Control is the ability to grab, consider, manage and even optimize your response at the very moment adversity strikes. When faced with an unexpected situation or crisis, many of us reel in our spontaneous control, after an initial blowup. Top performers are able to seamlessly shift from being presented with a situation to giving a smooth reaction without an external show of crisis. This is referred to as “the gateway to serenity”—it is a feature of your internal operating system that you can work on, improve, and enjoy the payoff of increased trust, respect and successful leadership.

Scale Recognition is another feature of robust adaptability. People often catastrophize, allowing adversity to take over their time and energy before getting it under control. They may even be completely knocked off of their game when a relatively small adversity arises. Those leaders who can remain amused and determined as adversities occur are the ones who will be in a better position to achieve their goals. Remember, true leaders don’t hope for fewer problems, rather the capacity to handle more, regardless of what issues come their way.

Endurance is the perception of how long the adversity will last. Many leaders are likely to perceive adversity as enduring. Successful leaders are those who remain optimistic and determined, confident that the situation will reverse itself quickly.

Once you understand your current ability to adapt and how to improve it, you can use your own skills to coach others. You can also use these tools in hiring; identify those candidates who possess strong adaptability skills, eventually strengthening adaptability on an organizational level. Illicit examples of strong adaptability and successfully navigating adversity from candidates during interviews.

These skills will give you an edge in 2012. But why wait? Start sharpening these skills today by following the Action Steps below.

The Gift: Keeping People on Track

At times, it can be difficult to keep yourself on track and moving forward in your job and career, let alone supporting the people you lead in their endeavors, too. Days are crammed with challenges and deliverables, and keeping abreast of how your team members are doing can seem like a task to fit in between lunch at your desk and the next meeting.

The reality, of course, is that the more you keep them on track, the more you will stay on track. Remember that their goals are your goals. If they feel unencumbered and can proceed with their daily challenges, essentially, your load is made lighter.

Here are three gifts to offer your staff. They aren’t tied up in bows, and they don’t come with balloons, and while no one will be singing Happy Birthday, everyone will be accomplishing more, because they will have a greater ability to focus on their core tasks.

Tools they want

Consider the tools that your staff need to feel that they can do their job. Notice I said “feel” in the last sentence. If an old version of software is still doing its job, but “feels” outdated and outmoded to your staff, consider investing in upgrading to the newest version.

It may be true that the old version is able to cover the basics, but if it makes your team feel that they are always “patching over” or are not able to do their best work, your investment in their tools will be well worth it.

Also, consider whether there are other tools (resources, or systems) that you may be able to employ, in order to facilitate actual work. These could even be free resources, such as a Google application that takes care of cross-departmental scheduling. Get peoples’ minds off of whether they have what they need to do the job, in order to switch their focus to actually doing the job itself.

The next time you have a weekly update with one of your staff members, ask him or her, “What (if anything) is hindering you from accomplishing your goals? What one or two changes would facilitate your success?”

Authority they seek

If your team members are given a charge, make them responsible for the outcome, and let them know your expectations.

Really. If you are not comfortable giving a staff member 100% responsibility for the outcome of a project or initiative, then give him or her 100% accountability for a portion of it. If they succeed, then you are ready to give them the next level of project, thereby supporting their career development while simultaneously moving ahead on your own goals.

Benchmarks they can reach

Setting realistic timelines and deliverables is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your staff (or yourself, for that matter). Spend the time at the front end of a project to get a grasp on how long it will actually take to accomplish.

Sometimes this means intervening and giving project plans a second look.

People are idealistic. They may be sincere. They may even be hard-working and ambitious. But that doesn’t mean that they are trained to foresee likely stumbling blocks and bottle necks along the way; that’s your job. Give them (and yourself) the gift of a realistic outcome.

So when you think of what you can do to facilitate the best work out of your reports, think of the acronym T – A – B:

T: Tools they want
A: Authority they seek
B: Benchmarks they can reach

Here’s how to keep your team on track.

Hostile Takeover: Hostile Attitude

Situation Room

Jackie, a highly successful bank manager in Minneapolis has been having trouble at her job ever since the bank was bought out by its competitor. She was shocked by the take over, and felt betrayed that she hadn’t been let in on the plans before they were announced to all of the employees. She has based much of her career identity on the fact that she works for a local bank that supports the community.

Now she walks around the office with a chip on her shoulder. She seems short tempered, and is outwardly sarcastic about the new ownership, even in front of customers or employees of the other bank, who are now her colleagues. The branch manager sat down with Jackie and attempted to let her blow off steam about her feelings. This only seemed to fuel her feelings and justification for her behavior.

What would you do?