Dog Wisdom

Every morning is great, never a dark thunder cloud.
Every morning starts new, with wagging so proud.
Not stuck in the past, not worried about money.
Not complaining the day is not just that sunny.
Not holding a grudge, or upset with their friends;
Not worried about fashion, Facebook or the Benz.
Not wondering if today, things will all go their way.
But present in each moment of each blessed day.

Dogs don’t need much – they all just want love,
Add some good food, and a family to be part of.
Not much more – no high expectations;
No fancy car or elaborate vacations.
They want some attention and moments to share
Their spirit, their wisdom, and how much they care.

Then, there are we humans with lives oh so rough.
All worried and nervous about having enough stuff.
We get challenged by looks, comments and frowns;
We get upset, sad and all versions of downs.
Little things upset us and lead us astray,
We get all upset when things don’t go our way.

We have our couldas and wouldas and things that we ought
From voices of others, from things we’ve been taught.
They keep us all twisted and scared without reason.
They keep us alarmed and concerned in each season.
The world takes us down with our focus on lack,
On limits and problems and meaningless yack.

We don’t see what dogs see – a new view each day,
To have fun, to live life, to be happy and play.
All around us is wisdom, of how to live right,
To live with a focus of play and delight.
Tune in to those eyes that have no conditions,
And the tails that wag without any suspicions.
Tune in to the greeting, delivered on demand.
Tune in to the love, given so freely, so grand.

There is much to learn from the Pug or the Lab,
The Schnauzer or Shih Tzu, with coats oh so fab.
The Shepherd and Sheepdog, the Maltese and Beagle,
The St Bernard, the Boxer and Great Dane so regal.
They have just one wish – to have a great life.
They have no agenda, no interest in strife.

There are just some days that I am really seeing
That dogs are way smarter than we human beings.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading See the Bigger Picture

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2 Questions All Leaders Should Ask Themselves

By Jay Forte

One of the behaviors I see most often when coaching executives is the need to be right instead of being open to the ideas of others.

Humility is an attribute rarely associated with our conventional definition of CEO or executives. In fact, the assertive, commanding and directing personalities have been routinely applauded as the attributes of successful leaders. Though there may have been a time when some of these behaviors did advance success, in today’s world, they do not.

Let me explain.

When any one of us is more focused on needing to be right than to sourcing the best ideas, we alienate, limit and exclude others’ ideas, perspectives or directions. The need to be right over the intent to be successful or productive are two entirely different things. The former keeps you small and limited as you push away others’ ideas and thinking. The latter encourages broad thinking, continual development and improved performance.

Today’s best leaders are those who are open, supportive, good at asking questions and listening; they are committed to their own development and to the development of their employees. They know that in a knowledge economy, the success of an organization is in the brains and ideas of their employees. That means that every manager, leader and executive must learn to ask themselves these 2 questions:

  1. Who do I have to be to activate the engagement and performance of my people?
  2. What in my approach needs to change to connect with, guide, support and coach my employees to discover, develop and use what they are best at to make their greatest impact at work?

The starting point to effectively respond to both questions is to define the success attributes of a CEO, leader, manager or boss in your organization. Don’t define it as it is today, but instead as it needs to be for your organization to be an employer of choice and to consistently deliver remarkable results in today’s workplace. This is your goal. As you start to build your success plan, refer to this as your “right goalpost.”

Next, assess what works and doesn’t work in your current approach. This is your “left goalpost” – where you currently are. By assessing what works and doesn’t work, you gain the clarity and information to know where you are and what is getting in the way to prevent you from achieving the goal you created.

In other words, you have left and right goalposts, your starting point and your end goal. This allows you to see the distance or gap you need to close.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say that as you reviewed your performance as leader, you noticed you are not very self-aware. You don’t really know your strengths and liabilities, so you can’t effectively manage them. As a result, you can be a victim to your triggers and emotions, frequently reacting instead of responding, which shows up in your organization through disengaged employees: your employees don’t really contribute, you see high employee turnover and it always seems like a struggle to achieve your performance goals.

Now you know what you want and you know where you are. You see the gap between the two. With this insight, you can start to identify actions to close this gap.

A potential first action may be to work with a coach to become more self-aware, to be introduced to assessment tools and to create a personal inventory of abilities. This expanded awareness will help you identify your strengths and liabilities; both will need management, which can’t happen if you are unaware of them. By managing them, you become a more intentional and mindful manager, becoming more responsive, more inclusive and more connected to your team and employees. Taking this first step helps you start to close the gap from where you are to where you want to be.

Take Action

Contact me to learn how we help leaders define their goalposts and build success plans to close the gap.

Be the kind of leader that engages, inspires, activates and retains the best employees.

 

Consider reading But I’m Just Not Good At It!

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Stop Managing and Start Coaching

By Jay Forte

When I ask people to describe a coach, responses include words like “encouraging,” “connected,” “interested,” “supportive,” and “committed.”

And when I ask people to describe their managers, most of the responses include words like “boss,” “distant,” “intimidating,” “disconnected” and “challenging.”

Yikes.

If this is what most people think of their managers, how effective are these managers when it comes to activating employee engagement and exceptional performance?

We’ve transitioned from an industrial economy to a service economy, meaning that more employees work directly with customers. Successful organizations know that no two customer-facing situations are exactly the same. As a result, employees need to be tuned in and actively thinking to maximize the service experience for customers.

With a manager who coaches – engages employees into more discussions, sets clear performance expectations, provides recurring performance feedback and helps navigate career and skill development – employees can take ownership of their performance and, as a result, have greater motivation to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

The goal of shifting from managing to coaching is to activate greater achievement and performance. So how can managers shift from the outdated manager mindset to one of coaching? Here are four areas to focus on.

  1. Connect. The starting point for all great coaching is awareness of what makes employees unique and the ability to know how to connect with employees to build a rapport. This includes acknowledgement (taking the time to really hear what employees say) and validation (understanding and respecting their thoughts and feelings). The value in this, other than treating your people like people, is that the more employees feel heard, the more they share.
  2. Engage. Managers traditionally tell more than they ask. By gaining the skill of asking empowering questions, managers not only gain insight into every aspect of the business, but it also activates employees’ thinking.
  3. Guide toward solutions. Once you get your employees thinking by the use of great questions, help them learn to solve more creatively by guiding them to imagine and brainstorm. Help them learn to invent several options to each challenge or situation instead of waiting for your solution. By encouraging employees to imagine new solutions, you help them grow, feel valuable, feel heard and, ultimately, become part of the solution.
  4. Guide toward achievement. Summarizing and bottom-lining help employees move their ideas into action. Using questions like, “What is best option and what is best way to implement it?” or, “Which ideas do you feel get to the best solution and how should it be implemented?” are examples of summarizing and bottom-lining.

What it all comes down to is this: before you can activate the performance power of your employees, you have to be able to connect with them and engage them. This encourages active thinking to find new solutions they can achieve with a greater sense of ownership.

A version of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn in February 2017.

 

Consider reading Do You Know Your Employee’s Engagement Language?

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Do You Know Your Employee’s Engagement Language?

By Jay Forte

In 1992, Gary Chapman wrote The 5 Love Languages, a book that illustrated how everyone primarily feels loved in one of five ways. Knowing our love language, and the love language of the important people in our lives, helps us better understand how to share what we need and how to better understand what others need from us. This awareness has changed countless relationships.

Since we spend so much time with the people we work with, it made me think about the relationships between manager and employee, one of the most critical performance relationships in any organization. Despite the importance placed on the ability for managers and employees to connect, the Gallup Organization’s State of the American Workforce report showed that nearly 70% of employees are disengaged in the workplace.

Perhaps even more disheartening is that disengagement levels are so high because of ineffective relationships between managers and employees, something that is seemingly so easy to fix. According to the Gallup, one in two employees who leave an organization leave because of their manager.

Perhaps the primary item missing from these manager-employee relationships is language. It’s not just about communicating; it’s about communicating effectively.

What if we could identify the engagement language that an employee needs so a manager can get it right more often? Knowing that we are all different and unique, why would we think a one-size-fits-all approach to connection, engagement and to making employees feel valuable would be effective?

I think there should be four types of employee engagement languages:

  1. Words of appreciation – some employees look for a compliment or supportive applause; it activates their inner higher performer. When an employee who thrives on being noticed for his or her hard work and contribution receives words of appreciation, it creates a great sense of personal value.
    • THINK: Who on your team needs this?
  2. Personal time – some employees like and need the one-on-one time with a manager. They feel valuable and important when their manager intentionally makes time to teach, guide or support in a personal way. Though all employees should have access to their manager in an intentional way, some employees are more actively engaged by personalized attention and time.
    • THINK: Who on your time needs this?
  3. Awards and gifts – some employees are more competitive than others and find trophies, awards or gifts more engaging. These can become tangible representations of effort, validation and applause that encourage and drive engagement.
    • THINK: Who on your team needs this?
  4. Development opportunities – some employees crave doing more, like having more responsibilities or having a larger influence. Selecting them for new and challenging activities, tasks and responsibilities activates and engages them.
    • THINK: Who on your team needs this?

Our greatest impact, influence and connection with our employees can only happen when we take the time to really know them. But how can we do this if we don’t take the time to know our own abilities and liabilities? Gaining clarity about our own attributes can help us more easily tune in to others. And doing this can help us learn their engagement language to better activate their engagement and inspire greater effort.

Important Questions from a Coach

1. What is your employee engagement language?
2. What is one thing you can start doing today to become more in tune with your employees’ engagement language?
3. How can you effectively touch each type of engagement language for your employee(s) or team?

 

Parts of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn, March 3, 2017.

Consider reading How to Succeed in Changing Times

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