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Leadership Lessons Ripped from the Headlines

Through his work as an executive coach, leadership strategist, speaker and author, Scott Eblin has become known as a thought leader in identifying the behaviors that executives need to pick up and let go as they transition into new and larger roles. President of the leadership development and strategy firm The Eblin Group Inc., Scott is a former Fortune 500 executive, with a coaching client list that runs the gamut from Astra Zeneca to the U.S. Navy. He is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success which Business Book Review calls a “fascinating read” that “is full of potentially career-saving advice.”

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Lead Like a Mom

by on October 29, 2010 10:30am
in The Next Level

With the beginning of a new group coaching cohort, I’ve been spending some time this week in one on one calls with high potential leaders to review their 360 degree feedback data. One of the calls was with a leader who I’ll call Nancy.  She’s a long term high performer with her company and the mother of two high school students. 

It was easy to see from Nancy’s 360 report how well thought of she is by her colleagues and our conversation made it clear why she is.  She’s smart, confident, humble and has equal measures of focus on results and relationships.  Using our online reporting system, we started reviewing her data by looking at the items that were rated highest by her colleagues.  To get things started, I asked her to look at her highest rated items as if she was looking at someone else’s report and give me a headline that summed up what she saw in the data.  With just a few moments of thought, she laughed softly and said, “It looks like a mom.”

The 360 I use is comprised of 72 leadership behaviors based on the research behind my book, The Next Level.  I’ve had hundreds of client conversations about the survey and have never before heard someone say that their results look like a mom.  When I looked at Nancy’s results with the mom lens on, though, I immediately agreed.  

Nancy’s highest rated behaviors ranged between a 4.44 and a 4.69 on a 5.00 point scale.  Yes, she’s good.  With her permission, let me share those high rated items with you.  Put your mom glasses on and see if you agree with Nancy:

Thankyounotes With a shout out to the folks at the Compensation Café blog, I just read an interesting post  on research that demonstrates the positive results that come from saying thank you.  So, as you read that last sentence you may have thought, “They needed a study to demonstrate that?  I learned that as a kid.” 

Yeah, me too. Specifically from my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Kreiger with some reinforcement from Miss Marilyn on the Romper Room TV show (along with her classic advice to “Do be a doo bee and don’t be a don’t bee.”)

Saying thank you is just the polite thing to do, right? Have you noticed, though,  that polite behavior doesn’t seem as prevalent as it used to be? In the ongoing battle for our attention between getting results and building relationships, the focus on results seems to be in the lead.  For leaders that are all about the results, taking the time to say thank you often gets pushed down the list of things to do.  After all, you’re busy. They know you’re busy and probably know you appreciate their help. If you don’t have time to say thanks, it’s not that big a deal, right?

The research suggests otherwise. Here’s a quick summary from the PsyBlog on the study that was published by Adam Grant and Francesca Gino in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: 

In the first study, 69 participants were asked to provide feedback to a fictitious student called ‘Eric’ on his cover letter for a job application. After sending their feedback through by email, they got a reply from Eric asking for more help with another cover letter.

The twist is that half of them got a thankful reply from Eric and the other half a neutral reply. The experimenters wanted to see what effect this would have on participant’s motivation to give Eric any more help.

As you might expect, those who were thanked by Eric were more willing to provide further assistance. Indeed the effect of ‘thank you’ was quite substantial: while only 32% of participants receiving the neutral email helped with the second letter, when Eric expressed his gratitude, this went up to 66%.

Saying thank you led to a 100% increase in willingness to help again in the future.  If you’re a leader who’s all about the results that should get your attention. Turns out that saying thank you is a pretty important skill to have if you want to get things done.  Here are some tips on how to do it:

Thanks go out to my friend Dan McCarthy of the Great Leadership blog for featuring my post, “What Is It That Only You Can Do?”  In ten years of executive coaching, I’ve found that’s a really important question for leaders to consider.  There are some caveats in answering the question, however.  For starters, it’s not about being indispensable. For more on this Coachable Moment from the new edition of The Next Level, head on over to Dan’s blog.

While you’re there, leave a comment and you’ll be in the running to receive a free copy of The Next Level.

Circus1 With everything that leaders have to juggle, it's easy to feel like the ringmaster of a three ring circus.  For Kenneth Feld, CEO of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, it must be hard to resist that feeling.  In it's almost always interesting Corner Office series, the New York Times ran an interview with Feld on what he's learned from leading the Greatest Show on Earth.

The interview itself is worth five minutes of your time.  In the meantime, here are some of the leadership lessons Feld has learned that stuck with me:

How To Tick Off Your Peers

by on October 22, 2010 9:30am
in The Next Level

Want to give a big shout to fellow blogger Mary Jo Asmus who's featuring my post, "Why Your Peers Can't Stand Working With You," on her Aspire-CS blog. Here are three reasons why you should head on over to Mary Jo's blog and check out the post and what else is there:

  1. Mary Jo is a terrific writer, thinker and coach with a wonderful humanistic approach to leadership issues.

  2. The post on peers cites exclusive research on what annoys peers about their high potential leader colleagues.  Could be valuable information to you or someone you know!

  3. If you leave a thoughtful comment, you'll be in the running to win a copy of the new second edition of my book,  The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success, 2nd Edition

My guest blogger tour continues today with a post on the thoughtLeaders blog. If you're looking for practical, straight talk on leadership, the blog written by Mike Figliuolo is for you. In conjunction with the launch of the second edition of The Next Level, Mike is graciously running a post from me on one of my favorite topics, Five Changes Go-To People Must Make to Keep Going.

Please take a moment to check it out and, while you're there, subscribe to Mike's blog.

If you're looking for new content from me today, head on over to where I'm guest posting today on Three Common Mistakes That Leaders Make (and How to Avoid Them).

Michael is the CEO and President of Thomas Nelson Publishing and has a fantastic following as one of the best leadership bloggers around. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to reach his readers directly. Thanks Michael!

If you'll head over to his blog and leave a comment on my post, you'll be entered in a drawing to win one of 100 copies of the new second edition of my book, The Next Level. Hope you enjoy the post and Mike's blog.

This week’s installment of the Video Book Club can’t hit any closer to home for me. Today, October 19, is the official publication date of the second edition of my book, The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success

With thanks for indulging me for three minutes, in this video clip I want to share with you (and show you) some of the new features in the second edition. It builds on everything that my clients and readers have told me they like about the first edition and, among other things, adds some fresh executive insights, field tested coaching tips and highlights of the specific behaviors that rising leaders need to master.

I think you’ll like the new edition of The Next Level and hope you’ll check it out. It’s available now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and wherever books are sold.

Here’s more info on what’s new in the second edition:

Whistle1 One of the new features in the second edition of The Next Level is a series of sidebars called Coachable Moments. Each of these Moments offers a context specific, road tested coaching tip that you can use to increase your leadership effectiveness or that of leaders you’re coaching.

One of my favorite Coachable Moments from the chapter on picking up defining what to do and letting go of telling how to do it is one I call the 20/80 Analysis. Here’s how it works:

When I was a kid, my mom let me stay home from school the day that the astronauts of Apollo 13 came back to Earth after their spacecraft suffered an explosion on the way to the moon. Like millions of others around the world, we anxiously watched the TV waiting to see if the capsule would survive the reentry through the atmosphere. I remember I cried when the camera caught the first glimpse of the chutes on the command module opening and the crew members made radio contact with mission control as they floated down to the ocean recovery zone.

Chile5 Watching live coverage of the rescue of the Chilean mine workers over the past two days stirred those memories from long ago. It was inspiring to look at the faces of the rescue team members as they embraced one of their comrades before he stepped into the rescue capsule to be lowered into the mine.  And then 20 or 30 minutes later, the cameras underground captured him stepping out of the capsule and into the embraces and handshakes of the miners below. As they saw the scene on the Jumbotron, the crowd gathered above at Camp Hope broke into song and cheers of Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le!  About the only thing that gets any better than that was seeing the miners emerge on the surface over the next 24 hours with amazing health and vigor to greet their loved ones, their rescuers and Chile’s president.

Last month, I wrote a post on What We Can Learn About Leadership from the Chilean Miners. The complete success of the rescue effort bears out how important it was for the miners to lead themselves and each other to survive so well underground for 70 days. Much like the astronauts of Apollo 13, they showed grace and calm under pressure, maintained their discipline, drew on their training and supported each other to get through a crisis. And, as was the case with the astronauts, the miners could not have made it safely home without the efforts, talents and leadership of thousands of others. There are leadership lessons to learn from the rescuers as well. Here are some of the ones I’m taking away:

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