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Champion Leadership Blog

Champion Leadership Tip #6 – Focus On Being Respected, Not Liked

Because I was young and naive when I took a leadership position during my first career in Minor League Baseball management, my focus as a leader was to keep everybody happy so they would “like me.”

Big mistake!

This leadership strategy backfired and had the reverse affect. However, it took a long time, like 10 years, before I realized I needed to improve my leadership skills.

Focusing on just “being liked” caused me to be slow in making decisions, to not tell people the complete truth, to promise things I couldn’t deliver and just be wishy-washy in general. These are not the traits of a strong leader and create a low-morale, low trust work environment.

As years went by and I carried that leadership approach into my future roles as general manager and president of other franchises, I continued to struggle with environments that evolved into low morale workplaces. Years later, when the stress of these negative work environments became too great for me to ignore (one situation led directly to the dissolution of my first marriage), I realized that I had to step up and improve my leadership skills and begin to address issues promptly, directly and respectfully.

When I made that shift in my approach, my focus changed. I began to focus on becoming a respected leader first, and a leader that was liked, second.

When you focus on being respected. You can be both respected and liked as a leader. Not everyone will like you, but over time they will respect you. Those that truly do not like or agree with your style will move on to an environment that fits more with their personality. When that happens you will find more people joining your team that are attracted to your style.

How to do this is more art than science and next week I’ll write about how to balance the two most important people management techniques so that you can become a respected and liked leader.

But, first you have to make a decision do you want to…

1) Focus on being “liked” by those you lead and you will be neither liked or respected, or

2) Focus on being “respected” by those you lead and you will be respected and have great chance at being “liked” too.

If you would like to improve the leadership skills of those in your organization it starts with understanding the foundation of influential leadership communication, which I train and coach to leaders at all levels of organizations in a program called “Influencing Options.”


Great Leaders Embrace Failure, Then Succeed Faster and Greater! What About You?

Here’s a 90-second video worth watching.

This video proves failure is absolutely necessary and should be embraced if we want to success beyond our wildest imagination.

As one of my business mentors tells me, “If you’re not failing, you’re not trying!”

How did you fail forward this year?  Enjoy the video!


Champion Leadership Tip #5 – Throw Out the “Golden Rule” & Lead With Platinum

The “Golden Rule” is a life philosophy taught to many young children in school, in families and in religious institutions. The “Golden Rule” states “do unto others as you would have done unto you.” Or more simply, “treat others as you would want to be treated.”

For general life skills the “Golden Rule” works very well. However, when leading others, or when trying to build a deeper relationship with others in any endeavor there is a higher level of interaction which many call “platinum.”

The “platinum” approach to leadership states, “do unto others as they want to be done unto.” This means leaders need to invest time to get to know the people they lead to understand what is most important to them.

When leaders know the people they lead well enough to know what is most important to them, and how they like to be led, leaders can adapt their style to get the most out of their team members.

The platinum approach to leadership is not a “one style fits all” leadership style, but offers a customized relationship that connects at a deeper level and allows for much greater results. This is because leaders can tap into the motivation strategies of the people they lead, and give them what they need most to be more consistently motivated and develop the skills necessary to achieve at a higher level.

A great example of this is my wife, who is a relatively private person and doesn’t like to have the spotlight shone on her. If she were recognized for an accomplishment on a stage in front of a large audience she would be extremely uncomfortable. But, get her in a one-on-one conversation and directly and specifically tell her to her face how she made a difference or how important she is to the organization she works for, it would light her up. The former would be demotivating and the latter would energize her. It’s important for her boss to understand her personality in this way to be able to get the most out of her in the most positive, supportive manner.

If you’d like even more support in becoming a better leader I encourage you to check out “The Leadership Series.” This is a new product I’ve created with Jim Smith “The Executive Happiness Coach.” Jim and I discuss 7 Essential Leadership Strategies for the 21st Century. It will officially be available on Tuesday, December 15th. All pre-orders will receive access to a Special Audio Bonus Segment “Leading The ‘Millenials” – GenY In The Workplace & What To Do With Them.” This a 50-minute discussion between Jim & I where we discuss the challenges of today’s multi-generational workforce and effectively leading and motivating the youngest generation moving into the world of work.


Champion Leadership Tip #4 – Great Leaders Know It’s All About “Thanks-Giving”

This week is a special holiday week in America as we celebrate all the things in life for which we are grateful. We celebrate this gratitude with a large feast with our closest friends and family.

As we move into the holiday season which starts with the “Thanksgiving” holiday this Thursday, it got me thinking about how great leaders show genuine appreciation for the efforts of those they lead and create situations to recognize those efforts in special ways that connect with their followers.

A little “thanks” goes a long way, as long as it is specific and genuine. Well-done shows of appreciation by managers and leaders can improve employee morale and motivation. They can also go a long way towards replacing the need to continually throw salary raises and bonuses at employees in the hope of improving their morale and motivation.

Studies continue to show that in lieu of appreciation and feeling valued in the workplace employees pine for higher wages, bonuses and benefits, which creates an entitlement mentality and wealthier unhappy and unappreciated employees.

In the spirit of the Thanksgiving Holiday spend time in the next few days working on and implementing one or both of these ideas:

  1. Invest a few minutes each day to write down a couple of specific things you appreciate about each of the people on your team. Then, invest just one-two minutes with each individual person to share what you wrote in a face-to-face conversation.
  2. In your next staff meeting, open it up by going around the table one person at a time and share “one-thing” you appreciate about each individual on your team (the public show of appreciation will have a huge impact on the overall morale of your team and create a collective and contagious positive feeling).
  3. Write a hand-written “Thank You” note expressing your gratitude for the contributions your team member has made. Again, here, be specific as to what it is the team member does to contribute to the effort. Handwritten notes are a lost art in this day of e-mail and text messaging and I guarantee will have a huge impact.

One caveat that I can not stress enough. Your comments must be specific to the individual and not just generic praise. By specific I mean pointing out a specific incident in detail, or a specific achievement that made a difference to the team, the company or helped you as a leader do something different or better.

For example – “Jim, I don’t know if you realize how big a help it was and what a difference it made last week when you went out of your way to help Steve prepare for his presentation to XYZ Company. I don’t think we would have gotten that contract without the insights you were able to provide to Steve. Thank you for taking the initiative to go the extra mile when you recognized the need.”

Have fun with it and enjoy the process by noticing the reactions and feedback, both verbal and non-verbal, you receive after doing these. If you do, I believe it will become addicting to you and contagious for your organization and will easily begin to improve the performance of your team.


A Lesson in “How Not to Motivate Employees”

I’ve heard of some pretty bad bosses in my 27 years in business and have witnessed some very poor tactics in attempted workplace motivation, but this has to take the cake.

The NY Post today reported about a restaurant owner in Manhattan that cursed out his employees and threatened them with their jobs for not accumulating enough e-mail addresses from patrons.

About the only thing worse for this restauranteur would have been for him to verbally abuse his staff with an outburst during the dinner hours with his restaurant full of patrons.

It seems from reading the article that employees know their boss’ personality and were not surprised by the outburst. I’m sure it will get some of them to start collecting the e-mail addresses he demands, but, at what price.

Mr. Ponorovsky (the restaurant owner) is creating a ‘compliance’ culture at his place of work and could very well be considered a bully boss. His approach may reap short compliance with his demand, but I doubt it will create results long term.

This type of approach, which I’m sure has manifest at other times, will have employees on edge and can not, under the emotional stress, deliver high levels of customer service necessary in the restaurant industry.

Or, maybe, he’ll continue to succeed despite his approach, but I would still argue profits would be higher if he were to adjust and create a ‘commitment culture’ at his restaurant where his employees did what he requested because they were committed to helping their employer be successful, instead of just doing it so they can continue to collect a paycheck.

I may go patronize the restaurant just as a show of support these abused employees and order a glass of water, sit there for 2-hours with friends but leave a big tip.

What do you think?


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