Why We Lose Our Influence With Those That Matter Most

And How To Get It Back Again!

Why is it that we often fall so short in our influence with the colleagues, friends and family that matter the most to us?  Because we assume we know what they want and need even though we don’t 99.9% of the time.

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve started down a path with someone only to find out I’m on the wrong road. To make matters even worse, my approach has caused them to be actively disengaged as well. Been there?

So why do we keep doing it?  Probably for a lot of reasons, the biggest one being our familiarity with those closest us.  And because they are familiar to us, we fail or forget the importance and need to build rapport with them.

Leadership is influence, plain and simple. And you can’t influence someone effectively if you haven’t built rapport.  Building rapport is a dynamic, ongoing process. The problem is that we treat it like it’s a “one and done” event. That leads us to assume we have rapport with others, especially wth those that matter most, when we don’t. That includes key members of the team(s) we lead. 

So what’s the key to building rapport so you can lead from the heart and maximize your influence? It’s this: remember to ask more than tell.

And while asking is simple, it isn’t easy. Why? Because asking runs counter to our nature; we simply like to tell people what we know and what to do. If you doubt that, just hangout with a kindergartner for a about 5 minutes (either a chronological kindergartner or a functional one, makes no difference).

What is it we are asking them about? Here are some essentials:203 AskvsTell I

  • What do you really want in this situation:
    • for you?
    • for our relationship?
    • for our family, team or organization?
  • What do you need in order to make it happen?
  • What’s do you think the next best step is?

What makes asking vs telling so effective? Relationally, it let’s them know its more about them than it is about you. Practically, it allows the other person to:

  • Discover, clarify and align with what he or she wants to achieve
  • Gain self-awareness
  • Elicit solutions and strategies they own

I think Blaise Pascal said it well:  “People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.”  And building rapport through asking may be the best way to help start and guide them in the discovery process. 

So how have you build rapport lately with those that matter most to you? With who do you want more?  It may be that all you have to do is start asking.

How you build rapport with those that matter most?  Please leave a comment, I’d love to learn.

Context Is Key To Great Leadership: Here’s Why

3 Things You Need To Know And Apply

What’s the recipe for great leadership? Given there are 8 general theories of leadership, common sense alone would tell us there isn’t one. I think our personal experience and that of others would lead us to that conclusion as well.

Yet we are all aware that great leaders exist. Furthermore, many of us have been privileged to serve with some really exceptional leaders and perhaps a handful of us can say they’ve served with some great ones. So what’s the key to understanding great leadership and what it takes to be a great leader?

Just as there isn’t a single recipe, there probably isn’t a single key either. However, I do think there is one important key when it comes to great leadership and leadership success: context.

Context refers to the circumstances that form the setting for an event, situation or occasion in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed. In many ways, it’s a key ingredient in any recipe for great leadership.

We can learn something about the importance of context by looking at a few great leaders of the past. Take Napoleon Bonaparte and Winston Churchill for example. Both men were great leaders during times of war and hardship. The leadership of both also failed when it came to peace time politics and governance. They had a masterful understanding of human nature in the context of war that didn’t translate to a peace time setting.  George Washington, on the other hand, was a great leader in part because he understood human nature across the contexts of both war and peacetime political and domestic pursuits.

Scripture speaks to the importance of context as well.  In 1st Chronicles 12:32 it says that 200 men from the tribe of Issachar were chosen to lead because they “….had an understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.”

What makes context so important to great leadership and why are some leaders effective across contexts while others are not ? First, great leaders are aware that context is important.  Great leaders are also able to read context, which allows them to apply their leadership styles and characteristics with regard to:

  1. Which need to be brought to bear
  2. What amounts are needed
  3. When to bring them

Just as you wouldn’t expect to bake a great cake by just dumping all the ingredients, flipping on the oven and taking it out when you feel like it, so it is with great leadership. No matter who you are or what your leadership track record, you can’t just “show-up” and expect success to follow. If you want to be a consistently great leader, you have to understand the importance of context and know how to read it well.

How has context affected your leadership in the past?  By paying attention to context, what adjustments could you make now or going forward that could make you a better leader….perhaps even a great one?

Please leave a comment, in context, so we can all learn.

How To Get What You Want

And Avoid A Black Hole

There are some things that are so bizarre that you can hardly believe it.  A black hole is one of those.  It has a gravitational field so intense that no matter or radiation can escape…..not even light!!  It’s also invisible.

Although we don’t have to worry about getting sucked in by a real black hole, there are plenty of other things that can suck us in.  And while those things vary, there is one insidious black-hole-like thing common to us all.  Like black holes, this one is invisible as well. What is it? It’s an “I don’t want” mindset.

I don’t know about you, but when I experience fear, anger, and other unpleasant emotions associated with people or events,  my default mode is to wish they weren’t there.  I go into an “I don’t want” attitude and fail to realize that my unpleasantries…be it fear, anger or whatever, are simply signals of things that need my attention.

And that’s the real issue: thinking of what I don’t want and/or trying to wish it away. It’s not my unpleasantries or harsh realities that are the problem; my real problem is my mindset about them.

When we focus on what we don’t want, we also create a black hole like vacuum, and end up with two “I don’t want’s”:

  1. Whatever it was that you let set you off in the first place.
  2.  A vacuum that begins to take on a strong, gravitational pull of its own; a Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) black hole if you would.

It’s important to remember that focusing on what you don’t wan’t is a natural reaction, so don’t beat yourself up over it. What you want to remember is that focusing on what you don’t want often  sets-up a “To Me”, Victim mindset that functions as a positive, perpetual feedback loop that grows stronger and sucks you deeper unless you break out of it. Some people never do.  Anyone come to mind?

The solution? When unpleasantness and harsh realities show up, instead of focusing on what you don’t want simply ask yourself “What do I want?”

By asking yourself “What do I want?”, you get some much needed AIR that counters the pull of the DDT black hole

  • A= Attention on what matters most (what you want vs don’t want).
  • I= Intention (focusing on your real outcome, not just ridding yourself of problems).
  • R= Results (satisfying and sustainable, not just temporary or reactive).

The  benefits of getting some AIR and into TED include:

  • Empowerment to focus on a vision of our own choosing…how to respond and where to go from here.
  • Mobilization of creative energy so we can act on things within our control.
  • A renewed sense of purpose,  forward movement and meaningful progress.

Our default reactions and natural responses when we experience things we don’t want or like usually don’t serve us well. By asking “What do I want?” instead of focusing on what you don’t want can help you escape the invisible, insidious pull of the DDT and take positive action instead.

I’ll leave you with a challenge this time instead of a question: The next time you find yourself focusing on what you don’t like or want, experiment and ask “What do I want?” instead.

Please leave a comment and let me know how it goes, I’d love to know.

3 Evidence-based Ways To Becoming A Better Leader

While hacks may be helpful for “doing” leadership to a certain extent, they usually don’t help me get to my end goal of being a better leader.

I have found the following three areas to provide compelling evidence you can intentionally grow and become a better leader:

  1. Social and Emotional Intelligence (SEI)- Daniel Goleman is the pioneer and name most often associated with this area.  While SEI is important in all walks of life, it’s becoming increasingly clear that it the foundation of good leadership.
  2. Resonant Leadership- Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee out of Case Western Reserve University and his team are the leading proponents and researchers in this area. “Resonant” refers to being in tune with yourself and those you lead.
  3. Coaching– Coaching at it’s core is about personal development and intentionally growing your awareness and ability to execute at increasingly high levels. Coaching has had tremendous impact on both personal well-being and the bottom line of business in recent years.

The basic essence of leadership is influence, and it starts with influencing yourself. The evidence makes it clear that you can become better leader through intentional work in the right areas.

Which of the three areas listed above, if intentionally worked on, has the most potential to increase your leadership influence of yourself and others?

Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts and where you want your leadership to grow.

(this is a summary of a guest post on the EIM blog; check it out for more detail.)

3 Steps To Shift From Your Drama Back To Presence

"Shift Moves"...You Can Use!

I remember as a physical therapist getting energized after learning key signs and symptoms to classify and treat a disorder using a matched, highly effective intervention technique.  It was a pretty empowering feeling…..until the first time I went through the process with a real patient; then it felt pretty clunky the first few times.

Whether it’s physical therapy, coaching, accounting, or any other field, learning new tools and approaches can be difficult and frustrating initially.  This is where having a practical framework for action is invaluable to trim the learning curve and help you go higher, farther and faster.

Managing yourself and learning to shift from Drama back to Presence is no different. The issue isn’t will you drift or how often. You will Drift, that’s a given. The real issue is how quickly can you can shift to Presence once you do Drift.

Shifting from Drift and Drama back to Presence only becomes possible when you arrive at the “Choice Point”.   The “Choice Point” in a given circumstances is the magical moment when you’ve had enough pain and get a glimpse of your reality. It’s that inkling of awareness that tells you shifting from the roles of the DDT to the Orientation of the TED will serve your best interests the best interests of those around you. It usually starts with moving from a Victim role to a Creator Orientation. You change the way you see yourself and the way you see others; not so you can change them, but so you can change yourself.  How do you practically…..I mean nuts and bolts….do that?

Here are the 3 Steps to Shift from Drift to Presence:

  • First – tell yourself the full truth about your current reality. This could be yourself, your situation, someone else or a combination of these.  Don’t deny, minimize or rationalize it away; don’t make it any better….or worse…than it really is. In other words, take life as it is, not as you want it to be.   It’s simple, yet often hard and sometimes scary to do.  This is the hardest step, yet once you take it you become grounded and know where your working from.0505 ShiftPresence II

Taking the first step sometimes requires a “jolt” or interruption of your system. This may come from others but there are some ways to “jolt’ yourself, which include: focused breathing, cultivating curiosity, asking yourself powerful questions (i.e. “where is that coming from?”) and simply exaggerating or changing posture are a few.

  • Second- this is critical: instead of dwelling or obsessing on what you don’t want, decide and focus on what you really do want for yourself, others or the situation.
  • Third- determine the next immediate baby action step you need to take to move in that direction.  A baby step is simply an incremental act that inches you just a bit closer to what you really want.  It’s also something only you can do and is 100% within your control…even if it’s simply choosing your attitude.

The crazy thing is that when you shift, it not only gets you out of the DDT and into TED, but it seems to send an open invitation to the twin sisters of sisters of Synchronicity and Serendipity: unpredictable and spontaneous events and/or people that just seem to “happen” or “show up” when you need it most.  Just like after taking the first step to Shift, the following steps to who you really want to be and where you really want to go come much easier and faster.

We all drift from presence and must consciously “Shift” to get back to it. When you Drift, how do you Shift?

Heaven knows we all need more Shift and less Drift so please leave a comment and share some of your own “Shift Moves.”

3 C’s You Need To Transform Your Leadership Presence And Influence

The Empowerment Dynamic (TED)....Get Some!

Have you ever fantasized or had the fleeting thought of how great it would be if you could “wish” and make your problems…especially problem people… go away? I think most of us have at one time or another. It’s clearly delusional and a waste of time to just wish.  What if you could actually transform things instead?

The reality is that we can transform the biggest problem people that repeatedly show up in our lives. It’s not only possible, it’s also entirely within your control because those “people” are you!  Well, not exactly but almost. To be more specific, they’re the three characters of the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) that you manifest once you drift from “Presence” and on to the DDT .  Remember, Presence is about being real, authentic and engaged in the moment; you’re both being and moving in concert with what is happening.

David Emerald puts a twist on Karpman’s DDT in the The Power of TED: The Empowerment Dynamic (TED).  TED is a great short story that is easy to identify with.  It’s a short and entertaining read; I highly recommend it.  After reading it you’ll be much more aware and feel much more more empowered.

While the simple reality of being able to transform any one of the troublesome DDT characters is awesome, I found there was small but significant problem the first time I actually tried to do it: I realized I really didn’t want to transform.  That’s right…I knew transformation was in my best interest but hey, siting in my “right to be right” felt too good at the time. That reminded me of two truths:

  1. Just because something feels good to us doesn’t mean it’s good for us.
  2. Just because something is simple to do doesn’t mean it is easy to do.

Given that we know what we want to transform out of (the DDT), what is it that we want to transform into?  When we make an intentional shift from Drift to Presence we can transform and show-up for ourselves as one of these 3 empowering characters:

  • Creator- The central role of TED and antidote to the Victim. Unlike the Victim, the creator still faces 0504 3CsPresence IIand solves problems and does so by taking 100% responsibility (no more or less). The Creator taps into his or her inner passion to create the outcomes they desire instead of reacting to what they don’t want.
  • Challenger- The antidote to the Villain. Instead of provoking a reaction from a Victim, the Challenger serves Creators as a catalyst for change, learning and growth.  A Challenger can be a person, condition or circumstance. The crazy thing is that a Challenger often shows up in unexpected forms and often at the most inconvenient and un-welcomed times.
  • Coach- The antidote to the Hero. Instead of reinforcing a powerless Victim, the Coach sees each person as a Creator in their own right. The Coach seeks to support Creators in their pursuits by working with them to identify current realities, clarify envisioned outcomes, and how they can bridge the gap between the two.

I have found that just about everybody can identify with the 3 “Problem People” of the DDT. Likewise, most can they identify with the “3 C’s” of TED.  While no model is perfect, everyone can use the TED model to help them shift from Drift and back toward what who they really want to be and what they really want to do for themselves and others.  The TED model is also a powerful tool and antidote that Leaders can leverage in order to counteract the natural pull of the DDT to maximize their presence and influence.

What problems are you wishing….or maybe even fantasizing….would just go away? How’s that been working for you so far?  What current leadership roles do are you responsible for where you need to shift from being on DDT and into the TED model? How would shifting serve your best interests as well as those you lead?

As you consider the questions above, the other thing to consider is whether you really want to transform at all. If you’re honest with yourself, you may find that you prefer to just settle for where your at. Yes, it may feel good in a sick sort of way to stay stuck….I get it. My friend Darryl Lyons gets a little more graphic: he  liken’s that state to a baby wanting to stay in his or her warm, full diaper (gross, I know, but it does make the point).  If that’s you right now then just own it and remind yourself of the simple truth #1 listed above.

On the other hand, if or when you’re ready to transform, then your going to need to Shift. Shifting will require some shift moves, which is where were going next so stay tuned!

Please leave a comment or share part of your own story.