More Tragic Blunders of the Inexperienced
Inexperience offers the opportunity to improve or the peril of developing patterns that hamstring your future.
Here are two tragic blunders of inexperienced leaders.
#1. Resisting – rather than actively seeking – input and feedback.
Improvement requires more than repetition. If you repeat the same ineffective behavior, you simply continue falling below your potential. Consider how you run meetings.
Meetings suck because those who lead them continue the same ineffective practices.
Ineffective leaders don’t define effective meetings. They don’t seek feedback on the way they run meetings. They simply continue repeating the same ineffective behaviors.
Confidence based on repetition – without feedback – solidifies poor performance.
5 steps to feedback that really work:
- Declare an intention. “I’m working to lead engaging meetings that create energy, rather than drain it.”
- What suggestions do you have for leading meetings that engage the team?
- What am I doing that helps the team engage?
- What do you see me doing that disengages the team?
- I’m going to ‘xyz’ at our next meeting. Let me know how that hinders or enhances engagement?
Who cares if you’ve been leading meetings for fifteen years. What have you learned? How have you improved?
#2. Avoiding tough conversations.
The person you can’t confront is in control.
Leaders who can’t have tough conversations are stuck in mediocrity.
7 tips for tough conversations:
- Separate performance from the person.
- Discuss performance frequently. Repetition enhances comfort.
- Affirm strengths 3x more than you discuss weaknesses.
- Focus on behaviors.
- Choose small actionable steps forward.
- Celebrate progress when you see it. A simple acknowledgement of progress energizes people.
- Focus more on next time rather than last time. Saying, “You screwed up,” might be necessary on occasion, but as a steady diet, it’s sickening.
For more tragic blunders of the inexperienced click here.
How might inexperienced leaders effectively seek input and feedback?
What tips for having tough conversations might you suggest?
Really good stuff here, Dan! (Although I admit it’s a bit unsettling to see myself in the mirror you’re holding up!)
Michael — We are ALL holding up those same mirrors. I used to teach confrontation skills to managers (not executives!) and these things are not part of normal management development or skillsets, from what I have seen. It is HARD to do them in isolation, without peer support. And this is one of those areas when having a mentor is so important.
Dan lays it our beautifully. The problem is getting there from where we are.
Thanks Michael. It occurred to me that experienced leaders might benefit from these posts. 😇
It is all part of having critical conversations with people. Enlisting the support of a mentor or colleague who can help you practice having these tough conversations is essential.
Neither of these may be “active” in the sense that managers are consciously doing these things. More likely, they are just behaviors chosen by habit and repeated – hell, they USED to work fine so why bother to change things. I think a lot of “resistance” is anchored to habit and a lack of perspective. That is why some of those 360 surveys, work — the feedback plus the consequences of continuing to get the same result / behavior.
And those tough conversations are more likely to occur when the manager is not meeting their goals than when they are, regardless of the negative impacts poor performers have on the average performers.
Lastly, we do not teach confrontation skills to managers. We do not give them a framework for having a positive discussion and outcome of behavior change from what they see as a conversation about to go postal. They imagine the worst case. And some of those poor performers are highly skilled at deflection and obfuscation and are hard to convince that THEY are the ones that have the problems. If you watch them in action, THEY are highly skilled at avoiding accountability.
The suggestions are all great, but what context does that manager have available to them to actually practice? Yeah, I know, “HR is there to help them.”
Thanks Dr. Scott. Your comment is a post within a post!
Do you have any suggested resources that would help teach confrontation skills to managers?
The book “Crucial Accountability” is excellent
Some leaders are just to scared to face their own realities so they continue with the status quo. Being truly reflective in thoughts transferred to action is important. It gives others a model of behavior of openness which leads to more productivity.
“The person you can’t confront is in control.”
That really spoke to me Dan.
If we can’t hold the difficult conversations, then we don’t move forward. We may not move forward, but we certainly won’t if we hold private those things that are crucial to be said.
I’ve had leaders who worked so hard to keep his/her employees from sitting around and having bit(h sessions, but I’ve always believed that progress should start with openness; an honest declaration of what is and isn’t working. Then, you progress.
A good idea never comes to fruition if because of fear it’s kept hidden.
In my experience my manager follows some of the suggestion for having touch conversations but he does overall try to avoid those conversations if he can. Specifically he uses the talk about the positives three times more than the negatives but the attitude in the office this you know what he will talk about how good a job your doing and then slightly mention an area of improvement, everyone knows thats what he really means and he doesn’t really mean the things he is saying about your good performance.
This is an area of where I want to be strong as a leader when I do assume a leadership role. I find to hard at times to have effective meetings. Most of the time people don’t want to attend a meeting so fighting that attitude can be difficult at times sometime but I like to suggestions. I just think most time their groups feedback would be not have a meeting just sent it through email or something.
Donald, I wonder if your manager even realizes how his performance conversations are being interpreted by his staff? If he is open to feedback, it might be worthwhile telling him so he can at least see himself in his own mirror.
“Inexperienced leaders effectively seek input and feedback?” – always remain engaged, seamless with their team, frequently asking, encouraging each team member, either individually or as a team for their opinions. Tough conversations” should remain calm & composed, with the right amount of tone (learned that one the hard way, was a ‘changer’ for me), show confidence without arrogance and no digression from the topic of conversation.
That is a new spin on looking at growth: Improvement requires more than repetition. Repeating the same, tired behaviors only perfects the same tired practices. Asking for feedback is crucial for an effective leader. In my department, I co-facilitate a weekly meeting, and we use a rolling agenda. We devote about ten minutes of our 2 hour meeting to discuss pluses and deltas of the meeting process. How can we improve based on how the meeting was conducted? Many of our pluses read as great discussions, productive, and engaging. Our deltas red as such: stick to the time frame allotted, limit outside distractions, and use positive language. These areas we address and remind our colleagues of our NORMS so we can continue having productive meetings.