Leadership Trevolution Blog

Blog Entries by Tag: Feedback

Three Leadership Skills That Result In Collaboration

Published on: Oct 29, 2012 | Tags: Team Leadership, Teamwork, Productivity, Feedback, Culture

In his book, Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior, Leonard Mlodinow cites research on how we as humans tend to inflate our performance. This isObservation called the “above-average effect.” Researchers have found that, when asked, as many as ninety percent of us believe we are above average. This is a risky perspective, to believe something about myself that may be contrary to evidence. 

I recently asked a group of leaders who are going through our Leading Teams course how they know their skill as a leader is growing. The course develops both leadership skills and capacities that revolutionize the way people work together. A leader should be able to see that kind of change in his or her team, don’t you think? 

We concluded a leader knows his or her skill is increasing when he or she deploys leadership practices that are intentional and appropriate for  team and individual needs, resulting in improved teamwork and performance. In other words, people work together better and get more done. 

Collaboration is a key component of effective teamwork. It results in exceptional individual and group performance. A leader can evaluate his or her skill in developing team collaboration based on observed behavior and measured outcomes. These are the indicators of leadership skill.  

Leaders take the first step toward team collaboration by developing skills. A leader can learn and develop three foundational skills to benefit from team collaboration. 

Skill 1 -Establish a collaborative team culture

Team culture influences how the people work together. It can develop intentionally as a leader defines it clearly, or it can develop unintentionally as nature takes its course. Leaders who want a collaborative team culture skillfully ensure it develops. 

Skill 2 – Observe and identify collaborative and non-collaborative behavior

A leader can classify individual behavior as collaborative or non-collaborative. While many leaders observe behavior, mostly that which they do not appreciate, they may not practice classifying it as collaborative or non-collaborative. The skill of observation and classification may appear inconsequential, but it is foundational to providing actionable feedback and direction. 

Skill 3 – Direct and redirect people toward collaborative behavior

Providing timely, actionable feedback to people is an essential skill for developing collaboration in your team. Being a leader who is respected and trusted positions you to be heard as one who both desires a great work environment for his or her team and high performance.

  The article, 65% of Americans Choose a Better Boss Over a Raise -- Here's Why, by Ty Kiisel quotes research by Michelle McQuaid, which is reflected in the article’s title. While I do not suggest leaders begin to constantly second-guess themselves, it is important to have an accurate understanding of your effectiveness as a leader. 

An accurate perspective on leadership skills and capacities reveals strengths as well as opportunities for growth. A leader who invests in developing skills and increasing capacity makes a real difference in his or her team. 

Our next complimentary webinar, Leading Your Team to Collaborate, will provide insight into the three skills mentioned above. We will host it on Friday, November 16 at 1 PM Central Time. If you would like to learn more or to sign up please click here.

Creating Employee Ownership through the Five Levels of Accountability

Published on: Oct 02, 2012 | Tags: Accountability, Productivity, Management, Team Leadership, Feedback, Empowerment, Delegation

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Many managers find the practice of holding employees accountable difficult. At the same time, they resist empowering those employees to make decisions and take action, limiting performance.

There is a connection between the ability to hold an employee accountable and the willingness to empower that employee for performance and goal achievement.

Our webinar, Creating Employee Ownership through the Five Levels of Accountability,  provides you with methods that make accountability a positive experience for both the manager and employee. 

Watch it on YouTube.




Ensuring an Accurate Perspective in Accountability Sessions

Published on: Sep 17, 2012 | Tags: Feedback, Team Leadership, Communication, Decision Making, Management, Accountability

FeedbackSomeone recently said to me, “This is my perspective.” While I appreciated that person informing me, it was not necessary. When we speak, we usually do so from our perspective. I did appreciate that he recognized it though. Some of us do not think much about how our perspective influences our communication, decisions, and actions.  This can have serious consequences when providing a team member feedback or holding him or her accountable. 

When you are looking in one direction it is easy to be aware of what is creating your perspective, but it is important to realize that there are always points of view that you are not taking. 

Try this, look straight ahead and consider everything you see. Now, turn around and consider how much you could not see from your original perspective, but is just as present in your current circumstance. 

Many times leaders fail to consider all that they can see, much less what they may not see from their point of view. Have you ever said or thought, “I wish I had known that?” 

That is usually my thought after it is too late to do anything about it! 

Before you give a team member feedback there are three steps you can take. I am discussing the first one here. We will consider this further in our upcoming complimentary webinar. 

  1. Look Around to Gain Perspective

Make sure that you have seen everything in your view, and then look around for additional interpretations of what you see. 

A manager had a team member who did not contribute in meetings. He interpreted that lack of participation as disinterest and apathy: his perspective. 

We broadened the manager’s perspective by looking at all of the information that was available, but ignored. The team member was engaged outside of meetings and his performance was above expectations. 

This additional information influenced the manager’s perspective and made him more open to alternative explanations. Ultimately, he discovered that the person did not feel it was safe to speak in meetings. 

In addition, he needed time to think about his contribution, and that time was not built into the decision making process for the team. He was not able to contribute as a result. 

If the manager had acted on the original interpretation of the situation, he would have had a negative impact on a person who contributed in every way outside of meetings. He might have lost a valuable team member. 

When the manager discussed the problem with the team member with a broader perspective, they were able to achieve a win-win solution that increased the team member’s contribution. Beyond that, the team benefitted as everyone’s opportunity to participate grew. 

What difference will taking time to broaden your perspective before giving feedback have on your team? 

We will consider this and more in our complimentary webinar, Creating Employee Ownership through the Five Levels of Accountability. This is our second and last time to offer it this year so don’t miss out. It will held be on Friday, September 28 at 1 p.m. Sign up here.

How the Five Levels of Accountability Create Employee Empowerment

Published on: Sep 10, 2012 | Tags: Employee Motivation, Management, Empowerment, Productivity, Team Leadership, Feedback

Accountability is the obligation to take responsibility. In terms of management, holding someone accountable is the idea that you are exerting control to ensure work is accomplished. It is true that, at the extreme, holding someone accountable is giving him or her the choice to achieve a prescribed result or not. At the basic level, there are usually consequences associated with the non-compliant choice. It is important to recognize this is not control.

 Control is an illusion! Control resides in the choice of the employee.

What is accountability if it is not employee control? Accountability is about employee freedom. Empowerment.

 When you position someone for accountability, you are acknowledging the reality that no matter what you do, in the end, his or her choice is the determining factor of the outcome. That is why the way you lead is critical to your ability to hold someone accountable.

 You can rely on the five levels of accountability to position individuals to make the right choice. They are: 

  1. Service
  2. Feedback
  3. Development
  4. Empowerment
  5. Discipline 

We will discuss these in our upcoming complimentary webinar, Creating Employee Ownership through the Five Levels of Accountability. This is our second and last time to offer it this year so don’t miss out. It will held be on Friday, September 28 at 1 p.m. Sign up here. 

Before you develop the capacity to practice each of these, it is important to understand how they create employee freedom. Each one progressively positions the team member to take ownership of his or her work. Therefore, they are not separate practices, but build upon each other. Blocks

The effective leader begins with service and builds upon service with feedback. He or she does not shift from one to the other, but builds one upon the other. Each prior practice should be in place before you move to the next one. 


Service is the foundation for feedback, 

Service and feedback are the foundation for development, 

Service, feedback, and development are the foundation for empowerment, 

And finally… 

Service, feedback, development, and empowerment are the foundation for discipline. 

The leader who masters these practices positions both the team and individual for the freedom to make the right decisions and take the right actions. I have trained leaders in these practices who have developed capacity in each one. These leaders acknowledge it is hard work. 

Leaders also find it is less work than attempting to control the uncontrollable. Is that what you feel like you are doing some days? 

A first step to developing capacity in these practices is our complimentary webinar. The previously mentioned webinar is a great place to find out more. Sign up here.

How to Create a Positive Feedback Experience and Accountability

Published on: Aug 27, 2012 | Tags: Productivity, Team Leadership, Employee Motivation, Feedback, Management

When my grandson was just learning to talk, I was speaking to him and patting his head (which has a lot of hair). He looked at my head and said, “Gone!” An astute observation that you would surmise is accurate if you knew how much hair I have. I was aware of the reality of his observation, but not expecting the feedback. 

I find the same to be true when many managers fail to give feedback to team members. There are times that team members know something is not as it should be. They are not sure what to do and do not expect to get any feedback

Alternatively, there are other instances when team members do not know there is a problem, an unmet expectation, or low productivity. In this scenario, the manager is aware, but fails to act. The unaware team member does not expect feedback. 

Both of these scenarios end badly because they do not ensure team member accountability. Beyond that, each one eventually results in a negative experience for the manager and team member. This is unfortunate and unnecessary. 

Four feedback practices make any feedback situation encouraging and ensure being held accountable is a positive experience. I am discussing the first one in this blog. 

            Provide Feedback Sooner Rather than Later

Duck!Sailing with a friend one day, I needed to turn the boat. When the boat turns the boom swings, and if you don’t duck it will hit you. Just before turning the boat, I told my friend, “You might want to duck.” As I turned the boat, I watched the boom hit my friend in the forehead. When I asked him why he did not duck he said, “I needed more time to process.” 

  • If a team member cannot approach you as a manager for feedback, by the time you realize he or she needs it, it may be too late to do anything. On top of that, the problems that result from your unawareness will take significantly longer to overcome. You don’t have time to duck.                                                                                                                                                                                 
  • If you fail to provide a team member feedback when there is a problem, an unmet expectation, or low productivity he or she cannot address the issue. If you assume he or she knows there is an issue, you put yourself at risk. If you are aware that he or she knows and fail to act, you ignore your responsibility. In either case, when you finally have to address the team member it is usually too late for him or her to recover. That person does not have time to duck.

Do you prefer time to address issues before they become crisis? Be open enough that team members can approach you when needed and know they will be heard.

Do you desire to see team members recover from failures and enjoy success? Approach them early enough that they have a chance to recover. If they choose not to make changes, it is their choice.

What impact will positive feedback experiences have on your ability to hold team members accountable? 

Would you like to learn more about making feedback a positive experience that results in accountability?

We are offering our complimentary webinar, Creating Employee Ownership through the Five Levels of Accountability, on Friday, September 28 at 1 p.m. Sign up here.

The Difficulty of Holding People Accountable

Published on: Jul 03, 2012 | Tags: General, Team Work, Team Leadership, Management, Feedback

Leadership would be easy if it weren’t for people. I have had that thought many times, usually when I have had to address a person who has acted irrationally, irresponsibly, unprofessionally, or thoughtlessly. I hate it when I am that person, because we are all capable of actions and behaviors that do not represent the best of our humanity. At the same time, we all have incredible capacity to make a difference, achieve success, and contribute positively. I enjoy those days, don’t you?

 Many leaders experience fewer enjoyable days and more stressful ones because they fail to hold people accountable when they behave negatively. The result is an inescapable trap that some leaders fall when they succumb to the belief that there is nothing that can be done. The basic belief: holding a person accountable is difficult and should be avoided if possible.  I have observed six reasons leaders no not hold people accountable. 

  • Conflict - The leader believes potential conflict is riskier than the negative behavior.
  • Failure – The leader believes that since he or she has failed, it is not right to address another’s failure.
  • Expectation – The leader believes adults should know how to behave and therefore he or she should not have to intervene.
  • Hindsight – The leader was not aware of his or her expectations until they were not met and then believes it is too late to address them.
  • Control – The leader assumes tacit responsibility by fixing the problem because he or she believes the other person cannot or will not do it right.
  • Pity – The leader feels sorry for the person and does not want to make him or her feel worse by addressing an issue.

 Each of these reasons for not holding someone accountable becomes an inherent leadership trap. The intention behind the justification for ignoring negative behavior, whether based in pity, expectations, or any other of these beliefs, seems reasonable if you do not examine it.  However, upon further examination, a leader will observe it becomes a self-imposed deception. Accountable

Consider this… 

  • Conflict ignored becomes increased conflict.
  • Failure to address failure because of failure perpetuates failure.
  • Expecting that which is not realistic creates a false reality.
  • Permitting hindsight to limit the present undermines the future.
  • Taking control of a responsibility without expecting a person to practice self-control limits you and frees them.
  • Pity that removes consequences for behavior perpetuates that behavior. 

Can you see the trap in each of these reasons for not holding someone accountable? I have unknowingly trapped myself by the practices that develop from these reasons. Beyond that, I have experienced the stress and frustration that accompanies each one.  I have also observed these in many clients and organizations. 

Accountability is the way out of the trap. Our upcoming, complimentary webinar Creating Employee Ownership through the Five Levels of Accountability will introduce you to an approach to accountability that ensures you avoid these traps. You can participate on Wednesday, July 25 from 11 am to 12 CST pm by signing up here.

Management Favoritism

Published on: May 21, 2012 | Tags: General, Team Work, Team Leadership, Management, Productivity, Feedback

Favoritism is perceived when a manager appears to offer more opportunity to an employee or employees than he does to others in his work group. This same manager may not recognize that he practices favoritism, or he may justify his favoritism. Either way, if those who work with him perceive that he practices favoritism the result is ongoing conflict and turbulence in the work group. Perception is reality to those that perceive it. The negative work environment costs in morale and productivity. 

Actual favoritism occurs when a manager allows a person rights and privileges based on relationship or personal benefit to the manager. This practice is easy to identify and cannot be justified. There is a simple solution in this scenario. Stop it! Stop it

Perceived favoritism develops with less intention and may not be understood as favoritism by the manager. When a manager relies on his most productive employees it can appear to be favoritism. From his perspective, it takes less energy and time to give them more opportunity and therefore more reward than those who are not as productive. In this scenario, “low performers” question why they do not get better assignments and more opportunity. It appears, from their perspective, that the manager has favorites. 

The manager justifies the practice based on his perception of the people on the team. That is his reality, or is it? There is another perspective a manager can take. He can see the developmental opportunities in the team. Then he will be practicing the leadership capacity of development. 

While it is unrealistic to believe everyone can perform at the same level, it is reasonable to believe people can improve. There are always exceptions, but does that make the exception the rule.  If the disparity of capability in a work group results in a manager who ignores some and relies on others, he is enjoying the results of that practice. Actually, it may not be very enjoyable. If a person is not meeting expectations, and the manager’s approach is to give more work to someone else he is missing a developmental opportunity. Two practices build the leadership capacity of development. 

Focus on Fairness 

The perception of favoritism will disappear if you are fair. Fair is setting expectations and giving everyone the opportunity to meet them. Invest in the growth of those you lead. If everyone shares the same opportunity to develop skills that prepare him or her for opportunity no one should appear to be a favorite. If someone does not want to grow in skills required for success, then be fair to those who are preforming at a high level and address the issue. Hig performers should not have to carry someone else’s responsibility because of poor managment. 

Challenge people to recognize what they are capable of plus a little. 

It is important for you to know the capabilities of those you lead or manage. The risk is that you accept current capabilities as all the capacity a person will ever possess. If you carefully observe those you lead, you will probably see more capability than they acknowledge. This may be your frustration, but it is also your opportunity. With this information, you can challenge people beyond where they are while limiting your risk. Push them a little past what you determine they are capable of without putting yourself or fulfillment of expectations at significant risk. Give them the same chance to learn and grow someone has probably given you. When they succeed everyone wins, when they fail they learn. Leaning becomes growth. 

Take a fresh look at the potential of those you lead. Make sure the lens you use for observation seeks potential. That potential clarifies the opportunity to develop people who want to succeed. 

Action and Inaction

Published on: Feb 13, 2012 | Tags: General, Systems, Feedback, Decision Making, Management

If you kick a ball, you expect your action to produce a result, changing its position. If you observe the same ball but do not kick it you expect no result or no change in its position. You may have similar expectations as a leader of a group of people. You choose actions that you expect to produce a result. There are times when you choose not to take action expecting that everything will stay the same or you may believe inaction will allow a situation to work itself out.

While most of us think about the results of our actions, we may not consider the results of our inaction. For instance, you may have ignored a conflict between people, hoping your inaction would result in the conflict dissipating. There may be an employee whose behavior is unacceptable, but you choose not to provide feedback thinking he will recognize his negative influence in the team. As you have observed, this approach seldom has a positive ending. The risk of inaction can be understood from a systems perspective. In a system, both action and inaction have consequences. A team is a social system. There are three dynamics that you have experienced in working with people that are evidence of this reality.

 ·  Inaction produces a result.

 ·  The same action does not always produce the same result.

 ·  Different actions can produce the same result.

 As you become aware of these dynamics in your team you might give up on some common assumptions I have heard from managers and observed in groups.

 ·   If I/we ignore it, it will take care of itself.

 ·   Since this worked the last time I/we faced the problem it will work this time.

 ·   A new approach will ensure a different result.

 The assumption of inaction usually results in a crisis that is far more significant than the original ignored problem. There are times that inaction is the right choice, but not when it is because you hope a problem will resolve itself. When you consider the second assumption, the fact that you are using the same solution is evidence that it did not work last time. It might have provided a temporary fix, but you continue to solve the same problem repeatedly. Is that really resolution of the issue? I am aware of an organization that has reorganized four times in the last ten years only to end up in the same situation each time. Every time they reorganized, it was to rollout a new strategy. Each time they reorganized the result was the same. They assumed a change of structure would change their competitive position. They were obviously a victim of the second assumption, but beyond that, their new strategies did not produce a different result. The new approach produced the same outcome.  In this instance Alphonse Karr was right, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” 

Empowerment and Accountability

Published on: Aug 01, 2011 | Tags: General, Empowerment, Productivity, Team Work, Feedback, Team Leadership, Self Leadership

Why is it so difficult to hold people accountable? We do what we are supposed to, right? Why doesn’t everyone else!! If you want to empower people you have to be willing to hold them accountable. Leaders and managers give many excuses for not holding people accountable. 

  • I don’t like conflict.
  • He or she will not like me
  • It is easier to do it myself
  • They are adults, let them work it out
  • I don’t have time for this
  • If I ignore it, it may get better
  • The rest of the team is picking up the slack, so it is not a big deal

 I have heard these excuses and many more used to avoid holding people accountable. This failure to address persons on the team that do not meet performance expectations has a negative impact on leadership and the team, both as individuals and as a whole. Most of the time, other team members who carry the additional responsibility become resentful toward the leader and the unaccountable co-worker. At times cliques form that divide the group, building upon underlying frustration and tension. Attempting empowerment apart from accountability usually results in lower performance and higher conflict. Over time, this dynamic can gain momentum until denial results in crisis.

 Holding another person accountable for his or her performance challenges many leaders and managers. One benefit of empowerment is the personal responsibility that grows out of ownership of the work.  When a leader gives work to a team member, it is given with a clear explanation of the expectations for performance and results, but the work belongs to him or her. One expectation is accountability. The leader then guides that person through interpretation and application of the expectations when questions arise for either person. This occurs in a dialogue that is supportive and assumes the person wants to succeed. It is not a “confrontation” but a cooperative discussion that helps the team member learn the necessity of accountability that balances the freedom of empowerment for everyone’s success. Are you willing to support another person’s success? If so, you can hold him or her accountable. 

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