Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics

10 skills at the heart of every leader’s arsenal.

“Topic 6 – Achievement reviews.”

transcript written by Wayne Brown

Hello and welcome back to our series; constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics.

Today we continue our discussion about team and employee feedback by looking closer at turning the traditional approach of the annual performance appraisal on its head and offering achievement reviews instead.

It’s a logical step if you have already adopted the learnings from the previous five leadership basics. And by now, your team would be motivated and heavily engaged while working on their assigned and chosen tasks. They will be able to see and share their progress & at the same time receive ongoing & immediate feedback.

Hence, the need to conduct that one-off annual performance review is greatly diminished. Instead, we turn this event into an opportunity to celebrate the success each employee is experiencing. Given that we’re at the halfway juncture of this series, however, and before plunging headlong into this topic, let’s quickly recap what we have covered in the first five episodes.

Topic 1: Understanding your place in the team – looking at nine key stakeholders and managing and setting expectations.

Topic 2: Motivating your future team – turning our focus to one of the key stakeholders and learning about seven primary considerations to achieving positive and sustainable motivation.

Topic 3: Creative delegation techniques – introducing task prioritization & the correct assignment of those tasks, but incorporating Activities of choice, showcasing progress & team collaboration.

Topic 4: SMART rules and reward goals – modernizing the traditional SMART goal setting tool by adopting an online gamers mindset to enable immediate gratitude and feedback (at least weekly)

And last topic 5: Feedback strategies – where we looked at the importance of everyone soliciting feedback, whether informal and formal and for the leaders, we offered several tools to improve their ability to prepare and deliver.

And one last item before we start our discussion on replacing the traditional performance review with our Topic 6 alternative, called Achievement reviews.

First, the technology uses web and mobile-based applications that offer instant real-time feedback to employees and leaders alike. In addition, many of these applications provide a modern version of the 360-degree employee assessment.

More and more organizations are adopting this approach from start-ups thru to Fortune 500 companies. Awareness of this practice was recently showcased by Tony Robbins and his interview with Ray Dalio (one of the greatest Hedge Fund managers of our time). Dalio explains the process adopted within his company Bridgewater and the tremendous value the use of this feedback application has bought to the employees and company alike. Essentially during any given period (meeting or at any time when the system is open), an employee or leader can provide feedback to other team members. The receiving team member can receive this feedback immediately and react or adjust accordingly.

So, we’re now ready to tackle our feature topic by throwing out tradition and the annual performance review process and replacing it with our approach, which focuses on the successes rather than the improvement gaps or failures.

To kick start this, we begin with a long-standing motivational theory. How many of you recall in topic two that we spoke about several motivational theories? One of these was the Needs theory or Acquired Needs theory from David McClelland.

From his research, he concluded that people have motivating drivers that are directly linked to needs, regardless of age, gender, culture, or race. He identified 4 of these needs as achievement, affiliation, power & avoidance.

McClelland also developed his version of the iceberg model, using the same Needs Theory. The Iceberg model looks at a person’s visible behavior, knowledge, and skills plus the underlying, unexpressed and unconscious HIDDEN deeper layers.

It provides an insight into the (learned) needs of someone based on his Acquired Needs Theory and links this to what the person does (i.e., what’s visible above water level) and what they think and want (which are hidden and below the water level).

In short, we want to utilize the learnings from this theory and model to understand how we can maintain our employee’s motivation during this dreaded once or twice a year event. Ensuring that we focus on achievement, affiliation, and power while being careful not to trigger any hidden (below the water) reaction in the minds of our team.

Rather than go cold turkey and turn off the performance evaluation mentality all at once, we’re going to provide here a soft transition. By offering an interim step, we hope to make everyone feel more comfortable doing this gradually. Therefore we discuss first a practice that has become quite popular in recent years, and that is the use of 360-degree feedback.

The traditional method of 360-degree assessment has always been quite costly to perform, particularly with a large volume of participants. Therefore these assessments are conducted less frequently and for special occasions, such as Leadership or talent development, and perhaps with some coaching scenarios.

Fortunately, the evolution in technology has also impacted many of these HR assessment platforms, and with it, we can find relatively lower-cost 360-degree assessment options for businesses.

The concept, however, remains similar. The person seeking feedback will request input via a questionnaire related to their performance. Typically, in addition to rating themselves, they seek this input from peers, direct reports, and their immediate boss. Still, from time to time, the clustering may be broader and involve customers or suppliers, depending on the circumstance.

There’s considerable advantage in this approach over and above the one-on-one performance review. The cross-section of respondents provides a balanced means of comparative feedback, which is easier for the employee to accept and often offers insights which the leader may not have known existed. 

However, the real challenge is to ensure that the results are interrupted correctly and the feedback coupled with concrete actions as an outcome.

The downside to the 360-degree assessment process is that it is seldom specific to the individual’s role or tasks and, more so, around personalities.

Therefore, the final method addresses that issue and is our preferred concept for all semi-annual or annual reviews – we call it the Achievement Review (remember the McClelland Needs Theory).

As the name implies, leaders will meet with the employee to acknowledge their successes during the past 6 or 12 months. If this leader has adopted our methods from topics 1- 5, this will be a consolidation activity. All the tasks or projects having already been discussed weekly throughout the year.

The initial acknowledgment meeting will still be in private one on one.

And then, continuing from our earlier online gaming phenomenon, each employee’s project results will already be known. The consolidated results can be made visible to the other team members, thus creating a form of competition,

But they are also offering the opportunity for continued, immediate gratitude and feedback from all. (again, remember McClelland’s theory and the need for Affiliation and Power).

Through this method, you skillfully satisfy all three motivational needs based on visible behaviors (i.e., above water actions) while also shaping the deeper & hidden thoughts and wants.

The outcome is a reinforcement of great performance, which becomes somewhat self-perpetuating for the employee and a sustainable, results-driven team.

Hopefully, you’re able to see how each of these six topics feeds into and supports each other. It’s not a linear approach but a truly powerful combination of parallel skills and activities. In short, an excellent way to the end of topic six and our focus on feedback. Well, almost – in topic 7, we acknowledge that even the best leaders and their teams have their moments, where not everything goes as scripted. There are those times when individuals express or demonstrate their disapproval about a situation. It’s human nature and a part of our DNA.

Suppose you remember the learnings from the SCARF model. In that case, you’ll recall that we each have our own unique personal behavior preferences, which ensures we can perceive situations as a threat just as easily as we can a reward.

It’s therefore not likely that every member of the team will always agree with everything the leader wants or needs to do.

So, in the next episode, we look at this reality and explore ways to deal with it – from handling conflict to turning the situation into a problem-solving exercise where everyone can learn and grow. 

We hope you are enjoying this series so far and have already subscribed to our video channel Mentors Rant and our podcast channel couchTALK. If not, we’d love to have you join us and receive your feedback and thoughts about these episodes, so please take a moment and leave a comment below. Here’s hoping that your day as an elevator-escalator tribe executive is productive, fruitful, and safe. Bye for now.

Leaders need to learn how to close

transcript written by Wayne Brown

Highly effective presentations for every leader”

  • Video 1 – Preparing to present like a Pro
  • Video 2 – What leaders need, to achieve initial buy-in
  • Video 3 – Leaders that chunk, link, recall and review, win
  • Video 4 – Leaders need to learn how to close

Welcome back to “Highly effective presentations for every leader” – you have reached the final episode of this series. And before moving onto our new material from episode #1.04, it’s important to recap what we’ve covered so far.

In episode # 1.01 – Preparing to present like a pro, we started by looking at the necessary preparations to enable professional presentations. 

Episode # 1.02 – What leaders need to achieve initial buy-in, we reviewed the critical considerations for that opening stanza of the presentation. 

And the previous episode #1.03, called “Leaders that chunk, link, recall, and review, win,” we looked closely at the essentials for presenters during the body of the delivery – and we’ll now summarize this in more detail.

OK, so lets at the consolidation of the 5 key considerations from episode #1.03.

If you recall, this episode is related to the “body of the presentation,” We touch on the 4 of the 7 concepts for memory retention.  

# 1 The art of chunking & linking – adults digest information best when it is broken into small parcels

# 2 Using body language to enhance the message – focusing on your facial expression, hand gestures, and body movement

# 3 Using voice to enhance the message – just as body language conveys a visual message, your voice conveys the verbal & vocal message 

# 4 Recall through activities – active learning is a powerful mechanism for assisting adults in locking in the message

# 5 Revisit and review – will deepen learning retention and create the potential for behavior change

As we have covered all 7 concepts of memory, let’s review them again here first and in order of importance 

  • Primacy, 
  • Recency
  • Chunking, 
  • Linking, 
  • Record & recall, 
  • review & revisit 
  • and outstandingness.               

Do you recall this topic from episode 2, where we said Primacy was the most important concept for memory? 

Well, now we look at the second most important “Recency,”meaning the last things we do before finishing our presentation – our close.

This is your final opportunity to ensure that all of the key points the audience has received and discussed are taken away with them in their minds and perhaps their hands. 

Let us now move into today’s topic.

During the next few minutes, we will explore the final 3 considerations in this 4th and final episode of the series – “Leaders need to learn how to close.”

  • Starting with “Summarizing topics & key take-aways.”
  • Followed by “Concluding the presentation.”

And finishing off with a Call to action     

Are you ready, then let’s start!

Consideration # 1:            Summarizing the topics and key take-aways 

  • this is where you bring it all together that one last time. 

Do you remember we spoke about the importance of reviewing a minimum of 6 times in the previous episode?                       

  • State the topics you have covered and those key points from each – recall something specific that was discussed with these points, so participants can recall.
  • Make the points visual so that there is a final chance to digest and retain – show graphically the link between all the topics which lead to the conclusion.
  • Take final questions and try to seek the audience’s involvement to review if your forum allows.

Consideration #2:              Concluding the presentation 

this is your chance to finish on a high!      

It is a great opportunity to practice your outstandingness – put on your dancing shoes (figuratively speaking) and make it special.

Leave the audience with something to remember the subject by – such as a closing statement quoted by someone famous or a dire prediction if no change follows.

During your preparations, you would have identified this, and now it’s time to live it and illustrate the lasting image you want the group to leave with – make it big and bold on and off the screen.

Consideration # 3:            Calling to action 

  • all great presentations have a follow-up request or requirement     

Try using the “challenge” or “call back” close – pose something which will require the audience to act immediately or commit to a post-workshop event.

Providing handouts, notes, or information on future events for the audience to take if interested is a good idea – but again create a reason why people would want to open it after they leave. 

I’ve been to way too many events where I have been given material that sits on my desk for a while when I get back to the office but eventually ends up on my shelf or in the bin.  

Don’t drag the ending on too long – bring the presentation to a close. 

If possible, stay for the remainder of proceeding to field questions outside of the event. 

To summarize episode # 1.04 and consolidate the 3 key considerations –  we’ve just learned how to effectively close a presentation.            

Start by Summarizing the topics and key take-aways – this is where you bring it all together.

Then conclude the presentation – your chance to finish on a high – Leave the audience with something to remember the subject by – such as a closing statement quoted by someone famous.

And finally, and very importantly, create a Call to action – all great presentations have a follow-up request for some form of immediate action or commit to a post-workshop event.

So that’s it for this episode. Thank you for listening to this series, “Highly effective presentations for every leader.” 

We’ve enjoyed making this short series 12 months back and are happy now that we have them available as a podcast series. We hope you can get value from the discussion and strengthen your presentation ability. 

It’s truly a key skill for all executives. During the series, we have covered  4 topics; 

– Preparing to present like a Pro

– What leaders need to achieve initial buy-in

– Leaders that chunk, link, recall, and review, win

– Leaders need to learn how to close

Please visit our site @ A Mentors Couch.com and subscribe to this channel called couchTALK, on Stitcher and Apple. Plus, if you haven’t already done so, you can watch this series as a video through our YouTube channel Mentors Rant.

We’re presently working on a series of meditation tracks for use during my coaching sessions. After that, we’ll be ready to start moving onto the Leaders Advance series available through our 3 pack approach – video, podcast, and blog.

So until the next release, bye for now, and enjoy presenting!

Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics

10 skills at the heart of every leader’s arsenal.

“Topic 2 – Motivating your future team.”

transcript written by Wayne Brown

WOW, you have reached a truly vital stage in the overall Leadership basics series. 

Today our attention is squarely focused on how to motivate your team members.

There is so much great information in this podcast that we debated splitting it in half, but as we’re already committed to having one episode for each of the 10 skills, we’ve found a way to package it. 

Are you ready? Sit back, stay tuned in and remember the transcript and any links will be contained in the accompanying blog.  Here we go…

We’ll cover in the next 20 minutes broadly deals with seven key considerations when understanding and addressing the topic of motivation. We can split these 7 into 3 clusters.

The first cluster of 3 considerations we call our “Motivational Enablers”. This cluster are like the pre-requisites to motivating and cover Leadership behaviors, workspace & environment plus a healthy mind.

The second cluster – a group of 2 considerations, we call our “Motivational platform” – where we look closer at our workforce generational mix and the various motivational theories available to us. 

The final and 3rd cluster we call “Motivational techniques”. Where we dig into using rational and emotion when triggering action.

Under emotion, we explore both extrinsic and intrinsic motivators to satisfy the inner needs. The final area looks into the latest neuro-science model, called SCARF, which assists us in determining the right intrinsic motivators to use based on behavioral preferences.   

Before we go further, however, I want to pause here and add that to be successful in motivating the team requires effort and focus on your part. 

Seldom have we witnessed a motivated team where the leader hasn’t been fully engaged and leading the way. 

Hence all of the following 7 considerations require you to be in the center of the action. 

With that said, let’s move into our first cluster, the “Motivational Enablers”- these are a pre-cursor before attempting to motivate and, if addressed properly, will improve your chance of success dramatically. 

#1 in cluster 1 is you as the leader and the leadership behaviors you display and operate from. Your team wants a leader that embodies all 5 of the following behaviors.  Trust, Listen, Share, Accept and Enable;

  • Trust – the team wants to trust that you have their back and will stand by your word. In turn, you need to demonstrate that you trust the team and that they are working with you, not against you.  
  • Listen – remember the concept of having 2 ears and one mouth. Practice active listening and encourage dialogue. Give your team a chance to have their say.
  • Share – communicate openly, transparently, and frequently. Remove the potential for hidden agendas and rumors with regular townhalls, Q&A, and feedback sessions.
  • Accept – that the team is competent and capable. Seek opportunities to engage them in the decision-making process and learn how to delegate meaningfully.
  • And finally, Enable – building on the first 4 traits, ensure that you provide a way for your team members to develop and grow. Provide sufficiently challenging tasks which encourage their input and shared learnings. 

One last consideration here – as leaders today, we must accommodate diversity and virtual teams. This brings with it different cultures, work environments, and potential for communication challenges, which may hinder our ability to successfully demonstrate all 5 of these behavior traits. 

Leaders today, therefore, need not only to be effective in F2F situations and with their own local teams they must be clear of how to build that trust and relationships in all circumstances to effectively connect in our global operations.

The 2nd “Motivational Enabler” looks at our workspace & environment – not always something which is fully within our immediate control, given budget constraints and fixed facilities. 

As was just mentioned, we must also give due consideration to the reality of today’s virtual teams. These can be as simple as employees working from home or out of their vehicles, to more challenging scenarios in dealing with team members scattered regionally or globally.

But suppose you are creative and engage your team to participate in open dialogue and the decision-making process. In that case, you can and should develop ways to improve the working environment and meet the current day less formal, modern, and healthy workspace expectations – it’s something that nearly all employees we speak with want and appreciate.

Whether this is a fixed or mobile space, remote or local location, taking steps to transform your team’s surroundings, the ambiance, and creating an overall healthier atmosphere can generate a mindset change and positive impact on working attitudes.

The 3rd and final “motivational enabler” and pre-requisite to motivating are a little more challenging to ensure than the first two. It looks at enabling a healthy mind through 7 key foundational life and work practices. 

A detailed review of these 7 practices can be found in an article titled “The Healthy Mind Platter,” published by the NeuroLeadership journal issue 4, back in 2012. 

We’ve placed a link to the article in the blog notes.

To avoid becoming too technical with the explanation, we’ll leave you to read through and understand more deeply about each. You should notice, however, that it supports many previously held beliefs in similar areas of research. 

Here’s the list of seven daily practices required for creating a healthy mind;

  • Sufficient sleep each night (but also considers the use of 10-15 min daily power naps)
  • Get regular physical exercise
  • The ability to engage in playful activities during the day
  • Ensuring sufficient rest time (which is different from sleep)
  • Opportunities for socializing with colleagues, friends & family  
  • Importantly work-related focus time – doing this in chunks is highly effective 
  • And the last is the practice of mindfulness – the newest perhaps in the group and is the subject of considerable research – we see the practice becoming quite common and popular nowadays.

So, there you have it – start with your own mind – challenge yourself to see which of these you are or are not fulfilling, and then look to your team. 

Question your team’s current working & lifestyle – what might be changed to enhance or enable these 7 practices? 

Remember, any of the 3 motivational enablers may work as a motivator, but they serve to open the team to increased performance possibilities. 

Right, so we have addressed the Motivational Enablers and are ready to tackle the two topics in Cluster 2, which we call our “Motivational Platform.”

And the first is a major one. Today, our workforce spans 4 different generations – from baby boomers through Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z or iGen as they are regularly referred to. 

There is nothing new with the age spread – young employees have traditionally entered the scene around 18-20 years of age and worked beside veterans 60 years or more, thus offering a breadth of working knowledge and expertise spanning 40 – 50 years. – i.e., someone that entered the workforce in 1970-1975 is retiring as we approach 2020. 

The clan’s newest member is Generation Z and will soon form the second largest of the 4 groups mentioned. By 2020 it is estimated that the iGen’s will make up 20% of the workforce.

The difference, however, comes when we explore the era that these generations have grown up in and, therefore, the expectations that accompany them. 

In some instances, those expectations have compounded from generation to generation, while particularly in the Millennials and Gen Z case, they have been born into different eras – be it wealthy parents, the threat from terrorism, global financial crisis, or technology explosion and digitalization.

In the latter case, digitalization, we see the technology on every level continually reinventing itself at increasing speed. 

So much so that we’re now entering one of the most transformational periods in our history and certainly for this current workforce demographic. 

We are seeing a convergence of multiple technologies, each one singularly changing how we live, but collectively the impact is probably beyond most of our imaginations – and this in the space of just a few years.  

Your role as a leader is to come to terms with the varying needs and expectations as you look to employ the right motivational techniques.  

We provide links to several articles which discuss Gen Y and Gen Z.

OK, so we’re almost ready to start motivating, but “what should we focus on” and “how to do it” – these 2 questions need to be considered first & therefore forms the 2nd topic of this cluster. 

For more than a century, researchers have been asking these questions and the results are quite interesting. Here, we list many better-known motivational theories that have evolved from more than a century of studies. Theories from legends such as Freud, Maslow, Herzberg, Vrooms, and Adams, through to the more modern and less known neuro-science studies and people such as David Rock.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, that over time, as our workforce evolved, so to have the research findings. 

Of course, technology has played a significant role, enabling us to perform our studies in different ways – particularly in recent decades with the developments in neuroscience. 

With each new theory comes a new level of sophistication in our understanding. 

And as each theory gets accepted by the experts and adopted, we begin to glean a common thread linking past findings and while also identifying elements that bring something new to the table. 

Note that to move forward and onto our 3rd and final cluster, we will work mostly with modern-day theories – those originating during the 1970s through to the last decade. 

And so now to Cluster 3 and the last two of our topics, we’ll discuss the use of “rational & emotional strategies” and how to leverage these to motivate. In particular, we zoom in and explore our extrinsic and intrinsic inner needs.

We have learned that leaders need to address the rationale (i.e., provide a logical, well-structured, wholistic, and simplified communication) when introducing any change topic to the team.

To do this, the leader must provide the meaning related to the topic and enable the team to see the big picture and where they fit into this process. 

This helps individuals, when receiving the information, to digest and associate with it on a personal level. It offers the chance for clarity on the reasoning behind the action. By itself, however, is unlikely to be sufficient.

That’s because we often need a little emotional stimulus to kick start us into action. Here we identify two methods to generate this emotional tie – firstly, we have the traditional power play at our disposal. However, this is no longer the accepted approach in most cultures. 

It may be necessary for certain circumstances, but we try to avoid this method of leading through authority as a general rule. 

The preferred way to trigger buy-in and action is via motivation, and this is what we will focus on for the remainder of this discussion.

Starting with the understanding of two words, “extrinsic” and “intrinsic.” Extrinsic, meaning to provide a short to medium-term stimulus for individuals – through things such as incentives, pay increases, or bonuses. 

We often refer to this as the carrot used to derive an outcome, and while this may be necessary for some circumstances to bring balance and fairness, it not always possible, nor is it seen as a lasting solution. 

The most preferred approach is to address those inner needs by focusing on those intrinsic motivators – and depending on the individual, these will differ. Fortunately, there are various options available – recognition, empowerment, autonomy, challenging tasks, etc., each of these falling into this intrinsic category.  

We now know that we need to lead change through the use of both rational and emotional stimuli. 

For the emotional component, we do so through motivating, perhaps using a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic motivators but leaning mostly on the inherent needs. 

And now for the final piece of the puzzle – an understanding of how to determine the best motivators for each individual in your team?

To assist us in the task, we turn to neuroscience and the latest study published in 2008 on motivation thru determining what triggers social behavior. 

There are two aspects – the first being the principle of threat and reward. The second being 5 domains of social experience, which depending on how each is triggered, can activate a negative, threat response or a positive reward response with our brains’ neuron circuitry.

The actual model uses an acronym called SCARF – and each letter relates to one of the 5 domains. They are Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness. 

In the blog, we’ll include a link to the site where you can complete a free online assessment to determine your own domain mixture and which of the 5 are most dominant. 

Understanding yourself first helps you understand the tool and the theory better. It would then be useful to have your team perform this same assessment to have a clear picture about which domains you need to focus on when trying to motivate an individual through reward and which areas you need to be careful not to trigger as a threat. The good news is that this model works across our generations – naturally with differing dominant domains but still with the 5 in play.     

And that’s it – we’ve covered a lot of territory with this podcast, examining 3 clusters of 7 different considerations to achieve highly motivated current and future teams.

The more of clusters 1 & 2 you can incorporate into your preparation and planning, the higher the chance you will have great success motivating your team. 

Provided, of course, that you then incorporate the “how-to” actions – i.e. 

  • combining both the rational and emotive strategies 
  • blended with a mix of extrinsic and intrinsic needs
  • and coupled with what we have learned from the SCARF model on treating each individual based on their social, behavioral preferences. 

We’re planning an Advanced Leadership series to follow this 10-episode Basics series and a promo opportunity here. One topic will be Peak Performance – this is a continuation of this motivation topic and the next topic on delegation – with these two locked in place, the discussion around peak performance makes a lot more sense.

Right so we have finished with our 2nd of the basics

Basic 1 was about Understanding your place in the team

and this one

Basic 2, about Motivating your current and future team.

Next up we look at how to take our motivated employees and find creative ways for you the leader to engage and delegate tasks or projects.

Looking forward to you joining us as we explore what our 4 generations require and answer 3 questions related to delegation – “WHY WHAT & HOW.”

BTW, if you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to subscribe on our website to receive automatic notifications as each new podcast, video, and blog is released. 

Looking forward to chatting again shortly. Cheers for now.

How to coach our tribal leaders – couchTALK Introduction

This is an introduction of the couchTalk show – How to coach our tribal leaders?

transcript written by Wayne Brown

Welcome to this first episode of couchTALK – an introduction of how to coach our global elevator-escalator tribal leaders.

As with our Coaches blogs and videos (Mentors Rant), these couchTALK episodes are devoted to sharing experiences, insights and learnings with our global elevator-escalator leaders and preparing them to lead successfully. The sharing and learnings will come from 4 groups;

  • Legends, those with 30 years or more working experience in our industry
  • Innovators, those disruptors that are looking to shape our industries future
  • Cheque Writers, those from outside of our tribe but whom influence everything we do
  • and myself as your coach and host through-out this journey,

Seth Godin and TRIBES – during this episode we reference to Seth and his book called TRIBES. Please find below links to his site and TED Talk on the subject. It’s a fascinating concept and one which we believe depicts our global elevator-escalator group perfectly. Note that when we mention our global tribe, we are not referring to one individual company but the industry as a whole.

Right click here to Save As and download a copy to your computer

Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics

10 skills at the heart of every leader’s arsenal.

“Topic 1 – Understanding your place in the team.”

transcript written by Wayne Brown

Welcome back… Hopefully, youve watched the intro video, read the blog, or listened to the podcast for this new series and have a general understanding of the 10 topics we are now starting to work through. 

The overall program is called Constant Change requires Leaders to Excel in the Basics and in this video, we cover the first of those basics, Understanding your place in the team.” 

As with all of our modules, we provide you three ways to access this content. In addition to the podcast, which you’re able to download, the full transcript (complete with pictures and additional links) can be found through our Coaches blog section of our website “amentorscouch.com.” or you can watch the original video on our YouTube channel “Mentors Rant.” Three ways to better lock in the knowledge.

So lets get started with topic 1.    

In our role as a leader, we are surrounded by key stakeholder groups. 

At home with family members and the broader community or social networks – i.e., friends, church, clubs, etc. as well as with our working environment – be it from our team or peers, our customers, our boss or even more senior management, the company itself and even our suppliers. 

People or organizations that with varying expectations and needs from us and our limited capacity are limited by time, resources, competence and so on. 

Perhaps these limitations are known by some stakeholders, but this typically only heightens their concerns about our ability or willingness to satisfy those expectations.

It helps, therefore, that you as the leader are able to realize your shortcomings in order to communicate with and manage these stakeholders successfully.

A useful starting point in managing stakeholders is incorporating a method referred to as the “Circle of Influence.” This tool enables us to sort and cluster our stakeholders, thereby making sense of the chaos. 

We can develop strategies and actions necessary to manage or support these groups or individuals. 

It’s a particularly useful approach for less experienced leaders who feel overwhelmed by the events and the volume of demand. 

Once clustered, we review each group to determine if they are supporters or perhaps detractors. This is powerful knowledge that we can utilize to determine the best strategy for working together successfully in the future. 

Our aim should be to expand this Circle of Influence & encompass as many of those in the Circle of Concern as possible– particularly those “critical of us.”

We’ll include several links with the transcript notes for people interested in researching this stakeholder concept and tools. 

Let’s now look closer at each of the stakeholder groups and touch on those important considerations. 

There is no right or wrong order for presenting each stakeholder here. It’s definitely not my purpose to trigger heated debate about which of the groups or individuals are the more important – family versus work, customers versus team, management versus suppliers, and so forth – hopefully, if you have performed the Circle of Influence exercise, you will have assessed how this works for you. 

And without wanting to alienate anyone, I’m starting with two of my key groups, “Teams and Customers,” as they impact all leaders and mostly from within our inner circle. 

Plus, they generally have very real and immediate expectations or needs. 

Each group can be treated as equal in this regard to avoid the chicken and egg question – there’s currently good social media discussion fueling this debate without my added involvement.

The “team” is critical in that collectively, they determine your business`es success.

Therefore they need your full commitment through professional leadership and supporting, encouraging, coaching and developing them.

The 1+1 equals more than 2 principle, which definitely applies here.

Create the right environment and enable each team member to perform consistently at their peak, and the business becomes unstoppable.

Therefore, no real surprise is that in the following videos in this series, we place heavy emphasis on specifics for developing this key stakeholder group.

Similarly, with the other group, understand your customer’s needs and drive your business processes, systems, and team actions towards true focused customer centricity and success become sustainable & profitable.

There’s a wealth of evidence from successful companies to reinforce this message AND any number of ways to move in this direction, but it starts within and the commitment to realize it. 

Check out the link on our site to the “Net Promoter Score” – this is a very in-depth analysis of how you and your business can determine if your customers are promoters or detractors. It’s well worth the investment of your time to review

Moving now to the topic of work-life balance, or perhaps more specifically, work-family balance. 

Today, most leaders understand this concept and requirement, but we are not always so good at implementing it.

We know it’s critical to ensure that the family needs are addressed. All the stakeholder groups this one sticks with us through the toughest of times, encouraging, supporting, and keeping the home front together while we are often away, traveling, entertaining, or working long days.

Some cultures, countries, and companies seem to have found the right mix while others not. At the end of the day, you need to determine the right balance – and this does not only apply to you but also to your team.

Please give your team members an equal opportunity to strike this harmony.

Check out the link to the Jeff Bezos interview speaking about “Work-Life Harmony”. He provides an interesting take on this topic..

On the other side of the spectrum, perhaps (depending on their philosophy) is your immediate boss.

As one of the key stakeholders for you and your team, this person (or persons as is the case in many matrix organizations today), plays a major part in the success of your career through their role modeling, support, coaching, and guidance.

Most likely, they were influential in you being in the role you are in today, so it makes a lot of sense that you establish the ground rules early with this stakeholder  –

  • What are they expecting
  • How would they prefer to receive communication
  • At what frequency?
  • Are there any do’s and don’ts?

One of the worst outcomes we see is from the leader who chooses to ignore this step. 

They believe that their boss will see their level of commitment, effort, and determination through their actions (which might be true). Still, in the end, they fail because they didn’t establish that clarity, connection, and trust through rigorous dialogue first. 

So, the opportunity for you now is to go knock on your boss’s door and set up a one-on-one chat – it’s never too late.

Onto our 3rd grouping of stakeholders – Peers and Suppliers, an interesting duo. 

We clustered them on the same portion of this video intentionally because there are many common dynamics which play out here through you as the leader and your interaction with them. 

And with this duo, we want you to do a little experiment. 

For this experiment, we could just as easily have chosen the final coupling of our stakeholder groups – that is, the Company and Social Networks, given your interaction frequency is normally not as regular as it is with the first 2 groupings covered. 

Less familiarity means the results will be less predictable and, therefore, easier to determine.

Many studies maintain that verbal, non-verbal, and emotional actions become “contagious.”

We’ve attached a link to a very interesting video on this subject from a Harvard researcher, ….  so please take the time to watch it. 

In short, the studies suggest that your body language, the questions you ask, and the emotions you express during that communication have a tremendous impact on how others react and interact with you. 

For me, this strikes an accord, as my own experience is that we react to someone based on how we perceive them. 

Therefore, we would like you to try the following yourself and monitor your peers’ and your suppliers’ reactions.

The first test is through body language using your hands and face to support your expression

  • . When greeting someone, ensure that your hands are visible and open at all times and use hand gestures while speaking. 
  • Also, make sure you are smiling authentically (watch the video to understand that in greater detail). 

Now try the reverse with a different colleague – hide the hands and don’t smile. 

Which of the two methods created the warmest and most charming atmosphere? How was the conversation and body language of your colleague?

For the second experiment, repeat the non-verbal gestures

  • visible, open hands, and warm, friendly smile.

but this time, choose your conversation questions more carefully and do this twice, 

  • the 1st time using topics related to enjoyable events or situations – “do you planned any vacations?” 
  • the 2nd time using mundane questions tends to be more work-related – such as “been busy lately?” 

Gauge the difference in response. We’re pretty sure the results will be quite clear. Reinforces our series opening comments about the importance of being an effective communicator, doesn’t it?  

And now to our final 2 stakeholder groups – those that are not directly related to me as a leader but often have a significant impact – and sometimes when we least expect it. 

They typically sit across our Circles of Influence and Concern. 

Let’s start with the Company. This relates to those people – perhaps in our regions or HQ’s, most often they are located in a different city and maybe even another country.

Identifying and understanding how and why your role may impact them or appear on their radar enables you to maintain an awareness and be conscious of any issues which might trigger that unexpected or unforeseen reaction.

It’s also great in helping you identify how you can contribute to the company’s success by considering and seeing the bigger and broader picture.

If you struggle to identify those persons or determine which actions might have an impact, we suggest that you seek guidance from your immediate boss.

Most likely, they will be happy to help you work through this as there’s a good chance that the impact will also have some consequence for them.

As stated at the very beginning, we didn’t group the stakeholders in order of priority.

Therefore, this final stakeholder – our social network, should be seen as no less important than any others.

In fact, many times in my career, the broader community has had a tremendous influence on supporting and assisting my career.

Here’s something you could do your own research on – Have you ever heard of the term “6 degrees of separation?”

Since it was first introduced, many attempts to test and prove its viability without ever being proven emphatically.

More recently, however, through the explosion of online social media, a new dynamic has evolved.

This dynamic supported by machine learning technology is starting to illustrate that the size of your network is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of a few random acquaintances. 

And that their impact on you is often much higher than the impact through your friends.

We’ve included a couple of links in case you want to research a little deeper yourself. 

However, it does makes you stop and think, doesn’t it? 

Should I have accepted the “friend request” from that stranger the other day? What opportunity did I just miss out on as a result?  

And before closing, let’s take a moment to reflect one last time at our stakeholder groups – can you identify the one stakeholder we haven’t covered thus far – if any of you guessed “our future robotic partners,” then you are very in tune with our thinking. 

It is a reality that today and to a much larger extent very soon, we will have to work more closely with robotics utilizing the latest AI development and driving our IoT world. 

How and in exactly what capacity is becoming gradually clearer. It is certain already that this will be a factor in our lifetimes and perhaps even within the coming few years. 

Taking time to think through the connections we are making today with machines such as Siri, Alexa, household appliances and security systems, autonomous cars, and any multitude of technologies soon, and you should start to understand the point I’m making  – we are in our infancy in this field. Still, the coming explosion of interconnectedness through IoT and convergence of all technologies means our interaction and reliance on robots is almost guaranteed.

So, this provides a very brief insight into our 9 stakeholder groups. 

Each group is individually important, and collectively, they are crucial to your performance and career progression.

Please find some time to review the additional links on our site amentorscouch.com and read through the transcript blog again for greater learnings. 

As we progress into the next 5-6 topics, we turn most of our attention towards the “TEAM” stakeholder group.

The reason why is simple. If you can lock in these core learnings on these basic skills with your team and empower them by applying the knowledge and methods we’ll cover, then your foundation for success is laid and solid.

This concludes the first of our topics called “Understanding your place in the team.” In this series, “Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics,” we will present 10 topics.

The next topic covers “Motivating your future team.” We look forward to having you join us again. 

Remember, you can also watch this video series or topic by topic on our channel Mentors Rant. We aim to release our trio on each topic (i.e., a video, podcast, and blog) every two weeks.

Looking forward to chatting again shortly.