Leadership Advice: Ask, Don’t Order

Question Mark

#40 Ask, Don’t Order

When you want someone to do something, ask him/her, don’t order him/her to do it. Asking creates partnership while ordering reinforces hierarchy. Partnerships connect people to the process whereas emphasizing hierarchy by ordering them is disconnecting. By taking this approach, people are far more likely to trust you when you do need to issue orders in emergency situations.

This is the fortieth post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights language, attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others. Although the language, attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

Connection Tip: Respect Other People’s Time

Business people holding clocks over their faces#35 Respect Other People’s Time – When you interrupt someone while he/she is otherwise engaged, show that you respect his/her time by saying “Sorry to interrupt you.  Is this a good time to talk?”

Another way to respect other people’s time is not to linger.  If the other person is not very responsive, it may be a sign that he/she is busy and is eager to get back to work. Be sensitive to the other person’s responsiveness or lack thereof as a cue.  Many people will not explicitly tell you they are busy because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

This is the thirty-fifth post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights language, attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others. Although the language, attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

3 Lessons from the Life and Leadership of Coach Wooden

As seen on SmartBlog on Leadership.

Most people know the legendary basketball coach for the ten college basketball championships (including four perfect seasons) his UCLA Bruins Men’s Basketball Team won while he was head coach from 1948 until 1975.

Many people know Coach Wooden was inducted twice into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and as a coach.

Some know Wooden was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor.

Few, however, know about the event that constitutes his greatest contribution to the game of basketball.  

Connect by Knowing Your Colleagues’ Stories

Colleagues Talking and Laughing#21 Know Their Stories

Take time to get to know the people you work with, especially your direct reports. Have coffee or a meal with them.  Ask questions to learn about their lives and what’s important to them.  Questions unrelated to work might include “what are your interests outside of work?”, “what do you like to do during your free time?” or “where did you grow up?”.  These questions typically open the door for you to ask follow-up questions. This will give you insights into how they are wired, including what they value at work and in their lives outside of work.  Research by psychologist James Pennebaker has shown that when you get people to talk, they feel more connected to you, they like you more and feel they learn more from you.

This is the twenty-first post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights language, attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others. Although the language, attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

3 Practices CEOs Can Learn from the Girl Scouts

Girl Scout Cookie BoxesIn most communities, January through April is the time of year when the girls in green are out in full force selling Girl Scout cookies. Can you imagine a world without Thin Mints®, Tagalongs® and Do-si-dos®?  Sadly, they were once at risk.

There was a time in the mid-1970s when the Girl Scouts were struggling and their future looked uncertain. Fortunately, Frances Hesselbein came to the rescue. Although she had no daughters, Mrs. Hesselbein had begun her association with the Girl Scouts when she agreed to help with a troop of 30 girls in Johnstown, Pennsylvania that had lost its leader. It wasn’t long before Hesselbein’s experience with Troop 17 developed into a lifelong commitment to Girl Scouting. In 1976 she became CEO of the national organization, Girl Scouts of the USA.

With membership falling, and the organization in a state of serious decline, Mrs. Hesselbein put sound management practices in place. During her twenty-four-year tenure, Girl Scout membership quadrupled to nearly three and a half million, diversity more than tripled, and the organization was transformed into what Peter Drucker described as “the best-managed organization around.” Hesselbein accomplished the amazing turnaround with a paid staff of 6,000 and 730,000 volunteers.

Here are three practices that helped Frances Hesselbein put the Girls Scouts on a track for success.

Connect with the Core

#11 Connect with the Organization’s Core

Remember to make an effort to connect with people who have less power, control and influence because they are the ones who do most of the work when it comes to executing the tasks of your organization. Research has shown that higher status employees pay less attention to those with lower status and they are unaware of it. The famous “Whitehall Studies” in the UK established that workers who are lower in an organization’s hierarchy have less sense of control and suffer from greater stress and this contributes to ill health and higher mortality. The antidote to help people cope with stress is to connect with them and to delegate greater control to them.

This is the eleventh post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights language, attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others. Although the language, attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

Affirm People in Introductions

#10 Introduce People with Affirming Statements

When you make introductions, get in the habit of making a positive comment about the person.  The positive comment must be genuine,  however.  As they say in the southern U.S., “it can’t be Saccharine… it has to be real sugar.” For example, you might introduce Tom by saying “I’d like you to meet Tom.  He’s an outstanding engineer.” or “He’s one of the smartest people I know.” or “He’s an avid runner.”

This is the tenth post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights language, attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others.  Although the language, attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

Recognize and Affirm Grit

#9 Recognize and Affirm Grit – Psychologist Angela Duckworth found that affirming people’s day-in-and-day-out passion, work effort and perseverance helped them develop “grit,” a form of tenacity that makes them more effective workers. Be sure to talk about grit, to look for signs of it in others and affirm them for it.

This is the ninth post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights language, attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others.  Although the language, attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

A Lesson in Valuing People

Oftentimes how a leader reacts in a crisis shines a light on his or her values.  Ratan Tata, head of the Tata Group of companies, showed he valued employees and their families as human beings following a terrorist attack on the Tata-owned Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel in Mumbai, India on November 26, 2008, six years ago this week.  Mr. Tata had dependents of those employees who were affected flown to Mumbai and housed for three weeks.  He personally visited the families of all 80 employees who were affected.  He attended the funerals of those who died. Counseling was provided for both employees and their families. Loans outstanding to the affected employees were forgiven, arrangements were made and a trust fund was established so that dependents of those who died would continue to receive their deceased loved one’s salary for life, the education of their children and dependents would be paid for, and the families would receive healthcare and have access to counseling for the remainder of their lives.

Valuing people as individuals, rather than for what they produce, is the heart of a Connection Culture.  As we remember the events on that horrific day six years ago, let us remember the courageous employees of the Taj who lost their lives trying to protect the lives of their guests.  Let us also remember the heart of a leader, Ratan Tata, who shared in the tears of the families and who led not only with skillful hands, but foremost with a true heart.

Connect by Focusing on the Positives

#8 Develop the Habit of Emphasizing Positives Psychologist John Gottman first observed that marriages were less likely to survive when the positive/negative ratio of interactions dipped below 5-to-1 (i.e. five positives to every negative). More recently the psychologist Barbara Frederickson found that a ratio of  3-to-1 applied in the workplace. Human beings need affirmation and recognition so get in the habit of looking out for ways to affirm and serve others. Do this by looking for task strengths and character strengths. Task strengths reflect the excellence of someone’s work. Character strengths reflect the way someone goes about his/her work.

For example, you might affirm a colleague by saying “Nancy, that was an outstanding website you created. The navigation design was easy to use, the writing was easy to understand and the color scheme was beautiful.” You might affirm Nancy’s character strengths by saying, “Nancy, I appreciate the way you persevered to make our new website happen. You showed wisdom and humility in seeking the ideas of others and applying the best ideas to the design of our new website. Very nicely done.”

This is the eighth post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights language, attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others.  Although the language, attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.