Strategic Leaders Academy expert Laura Colbert is a connecter, wife and mother of three, consultant, public speaker, personal advisor, author, outdoor enthusiast, and reader.

Your leadership style can accelerate your organization’s innovation and your Team’s Autonomy. 

team

I want to ask you three questions. 

  1. Who is your favorite leader, and why?
  2. What kind of leader did you aspire to be before becoming one?
  3. What kind of leader are you now?

I’m assuming that many of you wanted to be the kind of leader who inspired your Team to willingly give their best to your organization. You probably don’t want to be a fire-breathing leader that micromanages every little nuance. 

According to the chart below, many of us aspire to be the “Sage” leader–the one who creates transformation and helps our Team to accomplish their dreams. To do this, we need to share the “why” with our Team. 

It is no easy feat to cross the line between “Hero” and “Sage.” Many leaders are perfectly happy in the “Hero” role and have little ambition to move into “Sage.” Being the hero is seductive. People look to you for answers and solutions, which can actually slow down your business’s progress because it creates a sense of dependency. This “Hero” designation is fine if you are ok with the status quo, steady turnover, and employees who come to work to simply receive a paycheck. The “Hero” leaders run out of “how” when things become too complex. They give people agency to solve problems and innovate at the lowest levels possible.

On the other hand, there are those special organizations that create Teams with high autonomy. Only “why” leaders can handle complexity. “Sage” leaders aren’t afraid to shed their tough exterior shell, admit that the sum of its parts is greater than the whole, and explain the “why” so that their Team thrives in a complex world through autonomy and innovation. Everyone has the “roll up the sleeves” mentality. Not only does the job get done, but it’s more impactful than before.

Action Steps to become a “Sage” leader:

  • Take the Lead Well program: This program illustrates the six habits you need to become a “Why/Sage” leader. Click here to download the one-pager. Are you a good fit for this program? Apply Here! The next program starts in June.
  • Understand and Execute the “Lobster Principle:” Lobsters are animals that never stop growing. However, they need to shed their skin and be vulnerable for brief periods to move forward with their growth. Like lobsters, leaders need to shed their tough exterior once in a while to grow. Vulnerability means that you don’t always have the answers and that you’re willing to lean on your Team. It shows that you value them and their input, creating more buy-in and belonging.
  • Get to know your Team: You can’t become a transformational leader without getting to know your team. This takes time and energy, and it always pays off. It coincides with the “teach your Team to fish” analogy; the upfront time will pay off in the end. A “Manager” will give their Team a fish and feed them for a day. The “Sage” will teach their team to fish and feed them for a lifetime. Knowing your Team’s dreams and aspirations will help you create those meaningful transformations in their lives.
  • Practice sharing the “why” and then let go: This is a scary thing to do for the first time. There will be hurdles, pitfalls, and errors and that’s ok. Learn from the mishaps and keep handing over the reins. Eventually, your Team will gain a greater sense of agency, become more intuitive, and learn to ask the right questions to better guide their decision-making. Before you know it, your business sustainability will bolster, and the magic will happen in spite of you, not because of you.

Charisma

Charisma is your secret weapon to inspire and retain your employees 

Charisma is about connecting with people in ways that resonate with them. Real charisma is other-centered, not me-centered.

Charisma can take many different forms—make it specific to who you are. You might be the vivacious big talker who swaggers down the halls or through the cubicles. Conversely, you might be the leader whose charisma comes out through emails, videos, or even during 1:1 conversations. Regardless, your employees are watching you and will emulate the genuine energy you exude. 

I once worked with a leader who kept his head down as he walked the halls. It was apparent he was thinking about the latest fire he had to put out or processing the last meeting in which he just left. Regardless, his lack of charisma left everyone around him feeling flat, dejected, and undervalued. This leader was so isolating that employees took his lack of charisma as a personal affront

When this leader was up for promotion, it was a tough sell because even though he was great at the inner workings of the job, his outward façade left a lot to be desired. He got the promotion, but he still didn’t win the hearts and minds of a lot of his employees and many of them left. 

Action Steps to lead with Charisma:

  • Find and amplify your Charisma: Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Find ways to boost morale in your own way. Once you find your niche, amplify it. If you send the best and most inspirational emails, then send them. If you hold incredible staff meetings, then hold meetings! If you thrive with small group conversations, then gather intimate groups and inspire. Show your people your value the best way you know how.
  • Pay attention to your outward facade: Just like you check your posture while sitting at your computer, you need to check your charisma when you’re in front of your Team. Make sure your posture is open and inviting, you mirror your employees, or better yet, you lead a positive posture that they mirror. 
  • Be Present: You can’t lead with charisma if you never show yourself. Get out there and walk among your Team. Feels awkward at first? Good—do it some more. Everyone will get used to it, you’ll have a better pulse on your organization, and your employees will feel like you care, they will feel valued, and your presence will boost their engagement and productivity.
  • Put on a smile: Yes, it can be that simple. We’re human; I get it. There are days that we would rather put our head in the sand and “just get through.” It’s ok not to be ok sometimes. However, part of the leader’s role is to put on a brave face in front of your Team. Besides, smiling has a positive neurological effect on the giver and receiver. 

Additional Offerings: 

Join our central Wisconsin in-person or online Impactful Leadership Lunch. Join like-minded leaders during this monthly mastermind lunch group to improve your business efficiency, boost employee retention, and get you focused on doing what gives you joy.

Are you looking for a Keynote Speaker at your next event? I use my past experiences and knowledge to show you how to be the best version of yourself, surround yourself with the right people, and build highly productive teams. 

Book:

Sirens: How to Pee Standing Up – An alarming memoir of combat and coming back home. This book depicts the time of war and its aftermath. It seamlessly bridges the civilian and military divide and offers clarity to moral injury and post-traumatic stress. 

Bias

Tuesday, March 8th, was International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is “Break the Bias.”

bias

Tuesday, March 8th, was International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is “Break the Bias.” This theme resonates with me on so many levels. I have always positioned myself in more male-dominated roles as a physical education teacher, a military police officer, and a school administrator. My life’s underlying mission is to thrive in every capacity, regardless of my gender. I have had to prove myself time and time again and sometimes work harder than my male counterparts to achieve the same level of respect and understanding. Through it all, I’ve dealt with countless biases, microaggressions, and harassment. This article includes a few of the many times I’ve observed biases.

“Did you serve in a women’s war?” A question I was asked when I told someone that I was a veteran, which was soon followed by, “did you carry a gun?”

“Wow, you’re young for a principal.” A comment often made even though my same-age male counterparts never received this comment.

Business leadership is still vastly lopsided, with many more male than female leaders. We have a lot of work to do to close the gender divide. Until then, we need to do our best to break through our own biases and create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected. There are many systemic changes that need to occur such as better maternity leave, a deeper understanding of the constraints of nursing moms, and more family-oriented business models, to name a few.

Until then, here are a few immediate steps to break the bias in business:

  1. Eliminate the use of “you guys” – There are so many other terms of inclusion that one can use: Team, everyone, you all or y’all, folks, friends, etc.
  1. Eliminate calling women “girls” – If we don’t call men “boys,” why do we call women “girls?” This affects everyone on a subconscious level by labeling women as children instead of adults. 
  1. Stop calling women bossy – Assertive women are not bossy. They are leaders. If their leadership style is not desirable, talk to them as an individual, not as a woman who comes across too strong. Additionally, ask yourself if this behavior would be noteworthy if a man exhibited the same assertiveness. Chances are, we wouldn’t think twice about the assertiveness of a man. 

Most importantly, pay attention to your inner voice, your initial judgment, and check what your subconscious may be trying to tell you. I have been guilty of pre-judging women or assuming a man holds the leadership position over the woman. It’s in our nature. If we are aware of our actions and work to change our inner dialogue, it will impact how we think. As the famous saying goes, “our thoughts become our actions.”

Laura Colbert Consulting Programs

Lead Well: For Newly Promoted Leaders is an 8-week program that will help your newly promoted leaders thrive as they move from peer status to power status. Click here to download the one-pager. Are you a good fit for this program? SIGN UP NOW! Book a free 30-minute consultation with Laura to make sure this is the best fit for you. NEXT PROGRAM STARTS IN JUNE.

The Trusted Advisor Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, relentless accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results.

Additional Offerings: 

Join our central Wisconsin in-person or online Impactful Leadership Lunch. Join like-minded leaders during this monthly mastermind lunch group to improve your business efficiency, boost employee retention, and get you focused on doing what gives you joy. Are you looking for a Keynote Speaker at your next event? I use my past experiences and knowledge to show you how to be the best version of yourself, surround yourself with the right people, and build highly productive teams.

Encourage

Put the metaphorical “elephant in the room” on the table

Encourage employees to resolve conflicts such as this:

“Hey boss, Hannah interrupted me and was rude to me during our team meeting,” said Paul. 

 As a leader, how do you proceed?

  1. Go directly to Hannah and ask her about the situation with a reprimand in your back pocket.
  2. Ask Paul what he did to make Hannah act like that.
  3. Give Paul the resources needed to address Hannah himself to resolve the issue.

We can all agree that option #3 is the ideal solution. Yes, it takes time, patience, resources, and, oftentimes, a change in behaviors and beliefs. Having the ability to have encourage tough conversations, however, can change the entire dynamic within your Team. When your employees have the wherewithal and confidence to take these conversations into their own hands your time is freed up to do more important things.

I am trying to develop this lesson with my own kids, ages 4,6, and 8. When they run from their conflict to tell on each other my first question is always, “Did you tell your sibling how their actions made you feel?” If they answer, “no,” then I send them back to the room to have a conversation with each other first. If that doesn’t resolve the situation, then we have a group conversation about what happened and how we can fix the situation in the future. Oftentimes, the tattletale is just as guilty.

Here’s the really important part. I explicitly lay out how we treat our family members and what the Colbert family norms/expectations are. I am building a strong foundation of the expected and appropriate rules of engagement. I am giving the kids the tools needed now so that in the future I won’t have to referee. Additionally, I am help and encourage them develop their own skills and confidence when dealing with conflict outside of our home.

Action Steps to Encourage your Team to work it out without you having to referee:

  1. Co-developed strong Team norms. If your people are part of the planning, they will take ownership and will be more likely to use the norms to steer the conversation in the right direction. Don’t stop there! You have to model how to use the norms. Before I start a meeting, I ask each person to pick a norm they want to stick to during the meeting. Oftentimes, people pick a norm counter to their current mood. For example, if someone is crabby, they pick the “stay positive” norm. This creates an immediate behavior shift, which benefits everyone at the meeting, and I don’t have to lift a finger. 
  2. Don’t shy away from difficult conversations—lead! You’re the leader, show your team how it’s done! Ask clarifying questions, don’t make rash assumptions, and always address inappropriate behaviorsdon’t tolerate bullies. Here are some great phrases/questions to steer the conversations: 
  • “Tell me more about what you mean by that.” 
  • “Can you please repeat what you just said?” Oftentimes people are too embarrassed to repeat a negative comment. You can then say, “If you’re too embarrassed to say it now, why did you say it in the first place?” Then point to the “staying positive” norm.
  • “Is this in line with our common purpose” or “Is this in line with our norms?”

  3. Give your Team the tools needed to address inappropriate behaviors. Share the above phrases/questions with your team. Role-play, if necessary. 

  4. Provide clear expectations. Make sure your Team understands that you do not tolerate negative behaviors and that you expect them to have the fortitude to address each other when something seems amiss.

It seems simple, but for some reason, we don’t often take the time to have these conversations. Why wait? Less drama and conflict improves productivity and overall joy. Encourage your team to be open to understanding others and having mutual respect in the workplace.

Laura Colbert Consulting Programs 

Lead Well: For Newly Promoted Leaders is an 8-week program that will help your newly promoted leaders thrive as they move from peer status to power status. Click here to download the one-pager. Are you a good fit for this program? SIGN UP NOW! Book a free 30-minute consultation with Laura to make sure this is the best fit for you. NEXT PROGRAM STARTS IN JUNE.

The Trusted Advisor Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, relentless accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results.

 Additional Offerings: 

Join our central Wisconsin in-person or online Impactful Leadership Lunch. Join like-minded leaders during this monthly mastermind lunch group to improve your business efficiency, boost employee retention, and get you focused on doing what gives you joy.

Are you looking for a Keynote Speaker at your next event? I use my past experiences and knowledge to show you how to be the best version of yourself, surround yourself with the right people, and build highly productive teams. 

 Book:

Sirens: How to Pee Standing Up – An alarming memoir of combat and coming back home. This book depicts the time of war and its aftermath. It seamlessly bridges the civilian and military divide and offers clarity to moral injury and post-traumatic stress. 

Russia

No one wants to work with you if you don’t put others first.

Russia

Stop using archaic methods to influence others

Russia’s insane bombardment is foolish and unsound. Putin thinks it will work for him. That’s the bully MO—keep up the threats until someone fights back. It’s the same at work and school. You’ve dealt with that before. To the bully, the coercion is rational as long as they get their way. Putin and his allies are bullies pushing their narcissistic, egotistical agendas at the cost of innocent lives. They are destroying history and civilization for control, power, money, and greed. It needs to stop. They are smelling their own fumes and executing the cliché of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Civility— the act of perspective-taking, acceptance, problem-solving, and empathy—needs to rise in the ranks and beat the foolishness of using death and destruction to influence others. It is devastating how quickly we forget the lessons learned from past wars. While we’re still honoring our comrades who gave the ultimate sacrifice from the various wars on terrorism, Putin seems to have forgotten their debacle in Afghanistan, and he’s willing to sacrifice his citizens for his own gain.

To many of us, this tragedy is out of our locus of control. Perhaps, though, on some minor level, we can influence decisions or assist in cutting Russia off. Thankfully, we all have the power to support our troops who will once again go into harm’s way to fight for the greater good.  

No matter what, we can positively influence those around us. We can be leaders that today’s generations need. Our job is to rise up against bullies and be the empathetic leaders that prioritize our people who willingly contribute their best.

What can we take away from this tragedy:

  • Don’t be like Russia. Stop using archaic methods to influence others. Instead, practice civility and compassion.
  • Prioritize people, not your ego and purse strings. No one wants to work with you if you don’t put others first.
  • We need to hold ourselves and others accountable to do the right thing the right way. Integrity and character can eliminate tragedy and trauma within the workplace.

Laura Colbert Consulting Programs

Lead Well: For Newly Promoted Leaders is an 8-week program that will help your newly promoted leaders thrive as they move from peer status to power status. Click here to download the one-pager. Are you a good fit for this program? SIGN UP NOW! Book a free 30-minute consultation with Laura to make sure this is the best fit for you. NEXT PROGRAM STARTS IN JUNE.
The Trusted Advisor Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, relentless accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results.

Additional Offerings

Join our central Wisconsin in-person or online Impactful Leadership Lunch. Join like-minded leaders during this monthly mastermind lunch group to improve your business efficiency, boost employee retention, and get you focused on doing what gives you joy.

Are you looking for a Keynote Speaker at your next event? I use my past experiences and knowledge to show you how to be the best version of yourself, surround yourself with the right people, and build highly productive teams.

Book:

Sirens: How to Pee Standing Up – An alarming memoir of combat and coming back home. This book depicts the time of war and its aftermath. It seamlessly bridges the civilian and military divide and offers clarity to moral injury and post-traumatic stress.


[email protected]

Get this newsletter delivered to your inbox. Click Here.

Sign up for a free quick coaching session here to see if we’re a good fit.

Ditch the fear-driven accountability and move into a more hands-off approach with clear expectations.

Crucial conversations with your boss…, evaluation of an underperforming employee…, performance reviews that are behind schedule…

How’s your heart rate right about now? Chances are, these ideas do not fill you with joy or excitement. Accountability has turned into an ugly word associated with anxiety and paperwork. 

What happens when you get accountability right? It turns into a workplace filled with high trust, is purpose-focused, and disciplined. Your Team focuses on growth, commitment, fairness, and consistency. With high levels of accountability, you will set your Team up for success and they will want to contribute their best willingly. 

According to my article on strengths, positive attention is 30 times more effective than negative attention. How are you highlighting things going well and learning from mistakes? As a leader, your job is to take responsibility for pitfalls and give your Team credit when things go well.

What does your accountability look like?

Actions steps to get accountability right in your workplace:

  1. Move towards eyes-on, hands-off: If you maintain a hands-on leadership style, you’re the limiting factor when it comes to your Team’s growth. Find ways to delegate and step away from the details so that your Team can move up and out without your permission every step of the way.
  • Create mutual expectations with your Team: You always want demonstrated behavior > expected behavior. Use this weekly check-in to keep you and your Team aligned with priorities and expectations making accountability an asset while keeping your heart rate normal.
  • Give your Team a sense of Agency: Everyone does better when they feel like they have control. Employees want agency, and oftentimes you want to give them agency. You can do this by explaining the “what” and “why” and leave the “how” to them. With clear expectations, this is a win-win.

Laura Colbert Consulting Programs 

The Trusted Advisor Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, relentless accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results. Additional Offerings: 

Join our central Wisconsin in-person or online Impactful Leadership Lunch. Join like-minded leaders during this monthly mastermind lunch group to improve your business efficiency, boost employee retention, and get you focused on doing what gives you joy.

Are you looking for a Keynote Speaker at your next event? I use my past experiences and knowledge to show you how to be the best version of yourself, surround yourself with the right people, and build highly productive teams. 

Book:

Sirens: How to Pee Standing Up – An alarming memoir of combat and coming back home. This book depicts the time of war and its aftermath. It seamlessly bridges the civilian and military divide and offers clarity to moral injury and post-traumatic stress. 

[email protected]

Get this newsletter delivered to your inbox. Click Here.

Sign up for a free quick coaching session here to see if we’re a good fit.

benevolence

A robust culture and foundational trust cannot exist without benevolence.

When preparing for a 1:1 meeting with a Team member, I felt my stress levels heighten as I searched for ways to preserve my sense of self and uphold my integrity. I put a smile on my face even though I knew this person would dig for gossip and potentially twist anything I said into a “sky-is-falling” dramatic sentiment. Often, this person had a way of exposing my vulnerabilities. I replayed our conversations over and over to make sure that I didn’t say or do anything that this person could use against me in the future. I spent way too much mental capacity planning and debriefing after meeting with this individual.

This relationship was the opposite of benevolence. I was not confident that this individual had my best interest at heart.

Benevolence means we are not using mental and emotional energy worrying about the other individuals in our Team. It means that we will practice mutual kindness and have well-meaning intentions with our words and actions. A benevolent workplace equates to a trusting culture. Simply put, a workplace will turn toxic without benevolence.

If you lay a strong foundation of benevolence and your Team buys in, imagine how much less time people have to worry about looking behind their backs. Now your team can look forward and move your company to greater heights.

As a leader, how are you cultivating benevolence?

Actions steps to boost benevolence in your workplace:

  • Ensure a mutual attitude of well-meaning intentions: If you have to explicitly tell someone on your Team that your sentiments come from a place of respect and kindness, then do it. If something doesn’t come across as well-meaning, you can ask, “please help me to understand what you mean by that.” Don’t build up negative assumptions about the interaction. Stewing in anger and resentment does not build strong teams
  • Eliminate exposure of others’ weaknesses: If someone on your Team is struggling, have a 1:1 with them—don’t call them out in front of their peers. If you see this happen, stop it immediately. What you permit, you promote. Don’t be a boss who lets toxic behavior occur under your nose. Only bullies exploit the weak. Build your Team up instead of tearing them down.
  • Talk to your Team about benevolence: Explain to your Team that you would rather they spend their time on productivity, efficiency, and finding joy in their job than worrying about if they said or did the wrong thing during yesterday’s meeting. Ask them to be forward-focused and put their mental capacities toward constructive and innovative ideas.

Laura Colbert Consulting Programs

  • The Trusted Advisor Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, relentless accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results.

Additional Offerings:
Join our central Wisconsin in-person or online Impactful Leadership Lunch. Join like-minded leaders during this monthly mastermind lunch group to improve your business efficiency, boost employee retention, and get you focused on doing what gives you joy.

Are you looking for a Keynote Speaker at your next event? I use my past experiences and knowledge to show you how to be the best version of yourself, surround yourself with the right people, and build highly productive teams.

Book:
Sirens: How to Pee Standing Up – An alarming memoir of combat and coming back home. This book depicts the time of war and its aftermath. It seamlessly bridges the civilian and military divide and offers clarity to moral injury and post-traumatic stress.

[email protected]

Get this newsletter delivered to your inbox. Click Here.

Sign up for a free quick coaching session here to see if we’re a good fit.

team

Courageous vulnerability boosts your Team’s connections, understanding, and innovation.

When describing vulnerability, I’m not referring to Merriam Webster’s definition, “open to attack or damage.” I’m also not saying that leaders and Team members need to bear their souls and talk about all of their weaknesses. The vulnerability I’m referring to is the ability to ask for help, rely on one another, admit when wrong, celebrate Teammates’ wins,  see the value in being something other than that tough-skinned Autobot that has no feelings and only thinks about creating more widgets and making more money. I’m talking about the vulnerability that produces magical moments of insight, creativity, innovation, and unites Team members through commonalities and compassion.

During the civil war, the leader on horseback was the most vulnerable person in the formation—the exemplar of courage and steadfastness in the face of danger. When there’s trust, people don’t take shots at you—they help. Soldiers rally around the leader and Teammates offer help and support. You can admit mistakes and shortcomings and you can experiment and fail. What are the limits of vulnerability? How are you modeling vulnerability and leading the charge for your Team? 

I used to teach a semester-long adventure education course at a suburban high school. One of the capstone experiences was our overnight camping trip. Inevitably, we had students that had never slept outside, sat around a campfire, observed the stars outside the city limits, or cooked a meal over the fire. For some, it was very spiritual. As the night settled down, we sat in a circle around the fire and shared our hopes and dreams for our future. These nights took on a magical essence. Students bore their souls and showed their vulnerability. Oftentimes we ended the night with glow sticks and group hugs. The classes’ emotional awareness, psychological safety, and connectivity grew exponentially during those nights. This single night of vulnerability cracked open the thick layer of teenage self-consciousness, and our class moved from classmates to family.

These overnights became so legendary that students came to the campfire knowing they would shed tears and open their hearts. They anticipated a transformation with their classmates and embraced the change with open hearts. The best part? Our classes’ efficiency, creativity, productivity, understanding, and joy also increased exponentially for the remainder of the semester. The kids, who were sometimes a pain in the butt, quit their disruptive behavior. The disengaged became fully engaged. The unhappy came to school with a greater sense of belonging. The transformation was tangible.

“Vulnerability is not a weakness. That myth is profoundly dangerous… Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to a feeling of worthiness. If it doesn’t feel vulnerable the sharing is probably not constructive.” ~Brene Brown

Why it’s important:

  • Authenticity – Vulnerability allows each person to work as their best selves. They own their strengths, acknowledge their weaknesses, and find the best fit for their skills. They are accepted and have a strong sense of belonging.
  • Greater sense of belonging – Your Team will have stronger connections, a deeper understanding of each other, greater empathy and compassion, and they will be able to practice benevolence and interdependency. 

Greater passion for their work – When your Team is vulnerable, they can work interdependently towards a common goal and hold each other accountable. Notice how this doesn’t say that the boss will hold everyone accountable. No, the Team will hold each other accountable. Everyone has a clear purpose, and they know what their job entails and their expectations of one another. Talk about buy-in!

What is your equivalent to sitting around the campfire or riding on horseback? What event or activity can you create to drill through the core of ego and self-consciousness? As we navigate our polarized world, how are you using this opportunity to create a deeper understanding of one another instead of a deeper divide?

Know who you are and what you stand for. Just as importantly, get to know your employees at the same level. Allow people to express themselves respectfully. When you’re vulnerable feel safe, they will stick around and willingly contribute their best.

Laura Colbert Consulting Programs

  • The Trusted Advisor Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, relentless accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results.

Additional Offerings: 

Join our central Wisconsin in-person or online Impactful Leadership Lunch. Join like-minded leaders during this monthly mastermind lunch group to improve your business efficiency, boost employee retention, and get you focused on doing what gives you joy.

Are you looking for a Keynote Speaker at your next event? I use my past experiences and knowledge to show you how to be the best version of yourself, surround yourself with the right people, and build highly productive teams. 

Just because you built buy-in doesn’t mean it will stick around. It needs cultivation and invested time. 

Buy-in

So often, we feel as though we have to keep our cards close to our chests as leaders. We don’t want scrutiny. We worry that the plan has to be perfect—which doesn’t exist—before we reveal it. Maybe there’s a lack of trust within our Team. Perhaps we think our Team isn’t capable of thinking at our level. Or, we’re worried that our Team is not ready for change so we prolong telling them about it until the plan is done and it needs to be executed immediately. 

The best way to gain buy-in? Put your people first and treat them as professionals. How do you do that? You bring them to the table. You give them the confidence to provide valuable feedback. When you have time to do so, getting people to contribute their ideas before you make a decision allows you to adopt some or all of them and increase buy-in. Gaining their ideas in advance is more plausible than gaining feedback from them after you’ve made a decision. When you make this practice a habit, then people will better understand the times when you need to make an immediate decision.

How to gain organizational buy-in:

  1. Trust – Be authentic and vulnerable. Your Team is better together. One-on-one meetings and small team meetings are great ways to foster this trust.
  2. Psychologically safe environment – practice empathy and compassion and create a space where everyone can have a voice. 
  3. Request input and feedback – Ask specific questions and really address your Team’s concerns—allow everyone to speak. Don’t be overly attached to ideas. 

How to get buy-in for an idea: 

  1. The “WOW” factor – Let your Team know how this is going to positively impact them and the organization. 
  2. Share your journey on developing this plan – Tell them why you think this is the best one. Bring data to the table for your operational thinkers. Share examples of success. Use storytelling. Use  “what if we did nothing?” or “what else could we do?” scenarios so that your team can see why this is the best way forward.
  3. Ask for input and feedback early and often – Tell your Team that you’re still in the brainstorming stages and you want them to poke holes in the current plan. 

Once you have buy-in, how do you keep it?

  1. Communicate often – Clarify timelines, keep your direct reports and the Team updated on the progress. Document your various steps along the way on an open forum.
  2. Establish ownership – Use “we” and “us” when discussing the Team and the plan. These simple words will spread buy-in and a sense of belonging.
  3. Celebrate wins – Give credit to others when things go well. Take ownership of pitfalls.

What happens when you get crickets in a meeting? It could be one of three things. 

  1. Processing time – Make sure you are speaking at the speed of trust. Sometimes too much information can be overwhelming and people shut down.
  2. Fear –  They don’t want to pop your balloon, they don’t want to look stupid, they may have been burned in the past, or they are afraid of speaking up. You can eliminate most of the fear by developing trust and psychological safety.
  3. Indifference – They may be thinking, why fix it if it isn’t broken, we’ve always done it this way, we’ve tried that before, what can I do anyways, or glad I’m not at the helm! These statements are in contrast with continuous improvement. Don’t let your Team drift with these negative mind frames.

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” ~ Steve Jobs

Do you have newly promoted leaders that you want to thrive and master their added responsibilities and challenges? Then the Lead Well program is perfect for them. SIGN UP NOW by booking a free 30-minute consultation with Laura! Only a few spots left. The next session starts in the beginning of February!

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compassion

Communication, Compassion, and Clear Expectations will Boost Employee Buy-in and Belonging so that you can Retain your Team.

Managing people is one of, if not the most, difficult leadership responsibilities. Leading people can sometimes feel like herding cats. If you need a good laugh during your next break, check out this hilarious commercial

The kaleidoscope of personalities, emotions, traumas, and conflicts creates challenges far beyond that of writing an email, creating a meeting agenda, designing a new program, and any other non-people-driven leadership tasks. 

How, in a world where employees leave companies at a rate higher than ever before, can you retain your most valuable commodities—your people? You do this through consistent communication, compassion, and clear expectations.

A lack of consistent communication is akin to leading a Team blind. They may feel isolated, left in the dark, and undervalued. Trust will diminish quickly without open communication. 

A leader’s level of empathy and compassion directly correlates with the Team’s joy and fulfillment. According to the Harvard Business Review, job satisfaction is 85% higher for an employee who works for a wise and compassionate leader than for an employee who does not. Empathy and compassion are powerful attributes that will enhance understanding and commitment. Without compassion, the Team moves into a compliance-driven environment.

Without clear expectations, work is based on assumptions and inefficiencies become the norm. Tear down the walls and offer clarity so that your Team has peace of mind and moves in the right direction.

Action steps to lead with enhanced communication, bolstered compassion, and clearer expectations:

  1. Communication:

Transparency – With increased workplace anxieties, it is vital that the leaders practice transparency to ease tensions and decrease the fight or flight inclinations that plague our workforce when people are under heightened stress. Your employees need to feel as though you aren’t holding anything back.

Close the loop – We often accomplish our tasks, but how often do we close the loop with our stakeholders? For example, if you promise to speak to your direct supervisor on behalf of a subordinate but don’t relay the conversation back to your subordinate, they lose faith in you and assume that you never had the conversation. 

Listen – Practice the “4:1 – two ears, two eyes, and one mouth approach.” It can be detrimental when the leader is the only one making the decision. It also eliminates a sense of autonomy and innovation with your employees. They need to feel heard and seen.

2. Compassion:

Feedback is a team effort – The book “Nine Lies About Work” and the Harvard Business Review Article “Feedback Isn’t Enough to Help Your Employees Grow” highlight the importance of positive corrective action. “Telling people they are missing the mark is not the same as helping them hit the mark.” Work through the challenge with your employees and take ownership if you were unclear with your expectations.

Honor diverse perspectives – make sure your most vulnerable feel safe so that they can contribute their best selves. If you accomplish this, your Team will have increased creativity, productivity, and joy. 

Have empathy, then move into compassion – Empathy is seeing things from someone else’s perspectives, which is vital but can stall our decision-making. Empathy + action = Compassion and allows us to address others’ concerns. Once you move to compassion, you can remove yourself from the emotions, ask what they need, and guide your employee to overcome their hurdles.

3. Clear Expectation:

Let go – Layout the “what” and the “why” and let your Team discover their “how.” As Harvard Business Review describes, “Leadership is about seeing and hearing others, setting a direction, and then letting go of controlling what happens next.” 

Have confidence in your Team – Have faith and patience in the process. It is more powerful to be an ally than a critic. 

Delegate tasks – Your people are your priority. Use this weekly check-in outline for productive conversations. If you don’t have time to check in weekly, delegate tasks that others can do so that you can check in and clarify expectations regularly. These expectations should be multilateral. The Team has expectations of their leaders and should be able to voice them. 

Do you have newly promoted leaders that you want to thrive and master their added responsibilities and challenges? Then the Lead Well program is perfect for them. SIGN UP NOW by booking a free 30-minute consultation with Laura! Only a few spots left. The next session starts in the beginning of February!

Additional Offerings: 

Join our central Wisconsin in-person or online Impactful Leadership Lunch. Join like-minded leaders during this monthly mastermind lunch group to improve your business efficiency, boost employee retention, and get you focused on doing what gives you joy.

Are you looking for a Keynote Speaker at your next event? I use my past experiences and knowledge to show you how to be the best version of yourself, surround yourself with the right people, and build highly productive teams. 

Book:

Sirens: How to Pee Standing Up – An alarming memoir of combat and coming back him. This book depicts the time of war and its aftermath. It seamlessly bridges the civilian and military divide and offers clarity to moral injury and post-traumatic stress.