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Leaders – How to Get Your Team’s Motivation to Go Viral!

August 8th, 2011 10 comments

There are different types of teams in the world.  Each team is lead by a leader.  Some teams are wildly successful.  Everything they touch turns to gold.  While other teams seem to wallow in mediocrity, never rising above the norm.

What makes teams so different?  One difference is the level of motivation.  The successful team appears to be brimming with motivation.  Get out of their way, because they are steaming towards their goal!  While the other team seems to be only going through the motions.

I’ve heard it said that motivation comes from within.  This is true.  The sign of a great leader is one who will find this motivation lurking inside each individual and pull it out of them with gusto.

I’ve had leaders ask, “how can I reach this motivation.  I’ve tried contests and money rewards and I can’t seem to get them motivated.”  Contest and money doesn’t work for everyone or every situation.  Some occupations work better with these kinds of rewards.  Some personalities respond better to competition and fiscal rewards.   If you have competitive action personalities on your team, they are more likely to work for those kinds of incentives.

The more creative the project, the less likely contest and rewards will work.  For these creative projects, we need to roll up our sleeves and use a completely different approach.

Get your team actively involved in the crusade

The most successful people in business and life are those with a cause.  Something they can believe in and commit to.  People will work harder for a crusade or cause then they will for money.  The great leaders have discovered their own crusade and how it’s going to make people’s lives better.  It could be righting a wrong, or they’re working to make the world a better place.

A great leader figures out the crusade and then gets their team’s emotions involved with this crusade every day.  Great leaders understand that people respond to directing their own lives.  These leaders, also, recognize and respond to their team’s individual initiatives in moving the crusade forward.  Everyone wants to be a part of changing the world.  People will work harder to be a part of history.

Leaders must be in touch with their own dreams and goals.

The leader should recognize each member of the team’s strengths and how these strengths can fit into the big dream.  The leader should know the steps it will take to reach the dream, but never discourage anyone on the team’s contributions.  Individual initiatives may even discover a better way to accomplish the goals.  The dream needs to be big enough for everyone on the team to have an active part in it.

Everybody wants to be somebody.

Not only do they want to be somebody, but they have the desire to get better and better at something that really matters.  Everyone wants to be remember in the history of the world, at least in their world.  We must never forget this desire when we lead our teams.

To create an explosion of  viral motivation, we will need to inspire those around us to reach inside of themselves and pull out the best they can be.  People’s desire to be involved in something bigger than themselves and fight for something they believe in is a strong motivating force.  We can look for the best in our team and encourage them to make a difference each and every day.

I have a video of Dan Pink’s talk at Ted on motivation.  He brings some surprising things to light.  They are controversial things which most business don’t believe or don’t know about.  I’ve worked in sales fields where we were compensated monetarily.  At first, I didn’t agree with him (as if my research department is bigger than his). After contemplation, I can see how this fits. Leave me your comment and let me know your thoughts.

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Secret Leadership Tip – Build a Partnership with Your Team

December 9th, 2010 No comments

There’s a little secret to effective team building.  A leader has 3 choices; either know this secret and uses it, know this secret and don’t believe it or use it, or is completely clueless to the secret.  What is this little powerful secret?  It is to know your team mates and treat them like your partners in business.  This means knowing more than just their name and position in your company.  Sounds easy doesn’t it?

I’m not talking about knowing all the dirt on your team mates.  That is gossip and completely ineffective unless you are leading by intimidation, which is a trait of an weak leader.  I am talking about knowing what’s important to them in their lives outside of work.  Who are they besides the position they hold at your company!

This isn’t a difficult task if you have a team of 3 or 4.  It’s easy to learn somethings about them.  The most effective leaders are those who know their team mates’ families; spouse, kids, dog/cat, the team sports their children may be playing, etc.

I have heard leaders say they don’t want to get to know their team mates very well, because they may have to fire them.  My answer to such nonsense is, if you knew them better they would integrate into the team more effectively, work up to your expectations, and you wouldn’t have a reason to fire them.  Make sense?

People spend most of their waking day at their jobs.  If they are merely a number or a position, why should they care?  If your team doesn’t care, things begin to happen.  Work efficiency slows down, office supplies disappear out of the closet at an amazing rate, and moral stinks!

Many years ago, I joined a very large company.  About 2 months into my tenure there, I was at a company meeting.  On a potty break, I ran into the CEO of the company in the hall.  Right away, he called me by name and asked how my spouse was.  He even called my spouse by his name.  He had only met me once before.  I was impressed.

He always had the ability to know all of us and recall immediately all the tidbits about us he had gleaned from our conversations.  He cared about each and everyone of us.  We were his partners in business.

Some of us may feel it is impossible to know every one’s information.  It becomes a surprisingly different task if we change the way we perceive our team mates.  If they are all our partners in business, the details about them become more important to us.

You might say, I can’t remember everyone because my memory isn’t that good.  If that’s what you think, than you are right.  I’m sorry you’ll have miss out on this very important secret. But, if you change your mind and decide to prioritize your memory skills this tip will change your team’s dynamics.

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Successful Team – 5 Tips a Leader Must Know

October 11th, 2010 19 comments

Building a productive team can be a very rewarding experience.  It takes a set of real world skills schools don’t often teach.  This leads to learning it by the seat of our pants.  The best way to learn leadership is by following a good leader.

Effective teams work because the leader has the group’s loyalty.  Done incorrectly, the leader will lose the trust of the team.  Right from the beginning the decision has to be made.  Are you a leader or a manager? Once the decision is made, here are a few tips for becoming a group leader.

1.  A leader, leads from the front of a team.  They are the role model for the team.  If the team isn’t being productive, the leader should examine their own goals and activity first.  Even being an excellent role model, team members will, individually, only do a half to three quarters of what the leader does.  The leader sets the pace for the team.  If a leader wants a productive team, the leader must be productive.

2.  Leadership isn’t a 9 to 5 proposition.  A leader will put in longer hours than the team.  The leader of a team can’t ever go home early.  They come in early and stay late.  The leader can’t just “tell” their team to finish a project.  Even though they have trust in their team to complete each project independently of the leader, they are personally invested in the quality of the finished project.

3.  When a leader removes him/herself from the playing field, the team’s productivity will decline.   Leadership isn’t a paper pushing endeavor.  We would never expect to see the Captain of a sports team retire to the sidelines, tell his team to “go get ’em”, go inside, sit in the office, and work on paperwork.  That may sounds silly to you.  We all know, that team would go into a rapid spiral downward or they’d switch their loyalties to the best member they could follow who was actively involved.  I know paperwork will not do its self, but it is better to delegate it.  Paperwork is never the best use of a leader’s time.

4.  A team must always see a winning spirit from their leader.  A leader can never, ever show hurt.  If things aren’t going well, the leader takes the responsibility, re-evaluates, and then corrects the course of the team.  They  must be the one who re-ignites the group!  If the leader gives up, it is over. This doesn’t mean falling behind isn’t a great call to action.  But, a defeated attitude from the leader will defeat the team.

5.  A leader expects only the best.  If they don’t, they will only get mediocrity from their group.  The leader sets the standard of excellence for their team.  Their group is well trained and fundamentally sound, and functions like a well oiled machine.

Tough leaders have tough teams.  They know when to slap and when to kiss (not in the literal sense).  They know when the team members need discipline and when they need encouragement.

Although leadership isn’t a 9 to 5 job, it is the most rewarding position on the team.   A team is the sum total of its leadership.  Leadership changes lives! No where else can a person have a better influence in a group of people’s lives.  Take your responsibility seriously and go win!  Your team deserves it!

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Is Your Team Infected With This?

September 30th, 2010 No comments

There is a syndrome which can infect individuals or teams in the workforce.  It happens, most often, to sales people and their teams, but can infect people in other lines of work.  It is disastrous to productivity.  What is this crippling phenomenon?  It is “Hares” disease.

No, I did not misspell hare.  I am not referring to the over abundance of follicles on the bathroom sink after a shower.  The syndrome I’m talking about is named after the  Aesop Fable “The Tortoise and the Hare” . This disease’s main symptom is lack of consistency.

It is very common for sales people and sales teams to make a big push at the end of the month.  They want their numbers to look good for bonuses, etc.  This is a healthy thing.  It injects excitement and enthusiasm into the team.  The difficult part for the leader is to keep the momentum up after the push.  The first week of the new month, every one who participated in the sales push are suffering from PTPS, or better known as Post Tremendous Push Syndrome.  The team gave its all and is now putting more contacts and business back in their pipeline.  And, yes, feeling good about last month’s performance.  Left unchecked, it could spiral down into “hare’s” disease.

When a sales person becomes infected with “hares” disease, they lack consistency in their performance.  They’ll work really, really hard for a certain length of time.  They’re activity is like a jet plane going down the runway, preparing to take off.  The pedal is to the medal.  They start to get some momentum for career take off, and then, “bam!”, they let up.  They stop doing what they were doing to generate production.  Their jet plane bounces back down on the tarmac and has lost it’s take off momentum.  They’re tired.  It took so much effort they just can’t continue.  They take a break to rest up before they start again.  Every time they stop to rest, they lose momentum.  Their career never gets enough speed and momentum to take off and get any real results.  Just like the hare in the story, they have stopped to take a nap.  After a time, they will become discouraged with their lack of progress and quit.

There is a difference between a “rabbit” and a “hare” in this narrative.  Every team needs a “rabbit”.  They are the excited, motivated individual that will streaks out in front of the pack and makes it happen.  They set the pace for the team, similar to the rabbit at the dog track.  That rabbit always stays in front of the pack, giving the pack or team the incentive and the motivation running to keep up.

As a leader of a team, there are a few tips to keep your team going with consistency, like the tortoise, to get the job done.

1.  Know your team’s numbers.  How many contacts does it take to get appoints set?  How many of those appointments will turn in to sales?  How many sales does it take to reach the team goal and individual goals?  Keep those numbers in front of the team and reward them for  their activity in areas which generate results.

2.  Watch for the signs in their performance which happens right before they slow down for their “nap”.  When the signs are there, coach, encourage, and keep incentives in front of them to keep their motivation up.  Reward consistency.

3.  If your infected “hare” is hindering the performance of the team, and step 1 and 2 doesn’t work, it may be time to remove them from the team.  Harsh as that may seem, it may be the only route.  This syndrome can be catching!  The last thing a team needs is a group of infected “hares”.

We can get frustrated with team members who seems to be a slow plodding pace, but consisitency will win every time!  This Aesop fable is a reminder, steady performance with a focus on the end result will get the job done!

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3 Tips on How to Improve Your Team’s Self Esteem

September 16th, 2010 No comments

I have heard more times than I can count, “You get what you expect out of life.”  I have heard people say they don’t expect good things to happen for them.  If they do, they think it will jinx them.  They believe healthy self esteem, somehow it is cocky, ego driven and wrong.

When we are in leadership positions, especially sales, our team’s self esteem is vital in getting the job done.  When people come to us broken down in their self esteem by previous work experience or family issues, it is up to the leader to help them recapture their flagging self esteem.

I know, you are probably thinking to yourself, “I’m not a shrink.”  Or, “why would I hire some who is broken?”  Many times, we don’t know the status of our individual team members self image.  It’s not hard to use bravado to get a job, while inside their low self esteem keeps them from giving the best performance in their career.  I have interviewed people that appeared to have it all together, but after they became part of the team, their low self image was evident.

I believe the worth of an individual, can’t be determined by a psychological test, or any test for that matter.  I have witnessed some of the least likely people to succeed have done some astonishing things!  They have hearts of champions.  Given a fair shot and some good coaching, those that look average and ordinary can become the super stars!

There are several important things the leader can do to help fortify the team self esteem, reach goals, and create winners.  Here are three important tips for building team self esteem.

1.  The leaders can never expect or accept expectations of failure.  Things like “I can’t” has to be weeded out of the team’s vocabulary.  When a team goal is set, it is up to the leader to reinforce their teams expectations of success.

2.  The leader can’t expect what they can’t inspect.  Things such as leaders boards are a big help.  Our team implemented a big white board in the room where the team gathered regularly.  Every one was responsibly for posting their activity on the board for everyone to see.  It made it easy to recognize the people who were making it happen.  It led to better praise, recognition, and healthy competition.

3.  The individuals on the team, and the team, will rise to the expectations the leader sets for them.  The leader always has a better handle on what the team members can do, individually and together, then they know themselves.  Team goals should be attainable with a good healthy stretch to reach them.  Every time the leader sets a goal, and the team reaches it, the team’s self esteem grows.

Leadership is not for the faint of heart.  It is a tough and rewarding endeavor which changes peoples lives.  Leadership, done correctly, can change the self esteem of an individual and their families for generations.

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How to Handle Negativity and Develop a Team with Positive Attitudes

September 15th, 2010 6 comments

I have worked for many years in the corporate world leading top notch sales teams.  I have, also, had the opportunity to develop entrepreneurial sales teams.  One thing that I have found to be true with both is, working with people with a positive attitude is huge!  I have had people tell me that watching for this particular trait in potential team mates is not important, “it doesn’t get the job done.” I, personally, believe the opposite is true.

A bad attitude will doom whatever a person is attempting to make happen.  Whether it is an entrepreneurial career or a corporate position, you won’t accomplish anything great and long-lasting by being negative.  Can someone be positive 24/7/365?  Doubtful.  But, those that strive to be positive will always have a leg  up on everything they do.

As leaders, we will encounter many different personality types and stages of personal growth in the people on our teams.  It is up to the leader to set the pace and keep the entire team upbeat and positive.

In a group session, complainers should never be encouraged.  One complaint can lead to another and another.  There is nothing worse, and will derail progress, than to have a strategy session turn into one big gripe fest.  Here are a few tips that I found worked for me.

1.  Let the team know what is expected of them.  Let them know, a positive attitude is something that is highly valued and expected.  Praise and reward positive attitudes.  Nothing speaks louder to a team than praise and recognition.  Praise and recognition can be as simple as saying something positive about them in front of the team.

2.  Deflect negative attitudes by not giving them a voice in a group session.  If a negative attitude is presented saying to that individual, “this is something that you and I can talk about after the meeting”.  Stick to it and give them a private meeting behind closed doors.  Let your team know you are there to help with legitimate complaints, but if it is just plain old gripes, give them words of encouragement that they can deal with it, and move on.

3.  When someone, continually, presents negative comments to fellow team members, a coaching session is needed.  Have a one-on-one talk with them about how important it is for the team to pass negatives up to the team leader and only positives to the team.  If someone continues, after coaching sessions, to present a negative attitude to the team it might be worth considering removing their presence from the team.  To understand this better, I highly recommend Jon Gordon’s book “The Energy Bus”.

4.  It will happen, some one’s stressful home life will bleed over into the work environment.  They may look to you for help, especially if they have learned to pass negatives up and only positives to the team.  Unless the team leader is a marriage and family counselor, it is best not to tread into those waters.  I had to learn this the hard way.  I am an empathetic person and a good listener, but left unchecked it quickly becomes a quagmire.  It becomes the topic they want to talk about all the time.  I handled it by saying, “I understand what you are saying, but I know you are going to get this straightened out.” Maybe, suggest a professional counselor.

I can’t stress it enough, it starts with each of us.  We have to be the role models.  Go out every day with the desire to develop a positive winning attitude.   See yourself as a success, doing something you’re excited about!  See yourself as someone special…a winner!

Leave me a comment and let me know what works for your team.  🙂

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Is a Positive Attitude Really THAT Important to A Team?

September 10th, 2010 1 comment

The other day, I was browsing through a catalog and I ran across a sign that said, “the beatings will continue until morale improves”.  A little  bit of tongue in cheek humor.  Or is it?  It got me thinking about the two different management styles; positive versus negative.

Many managers make the mistake of passing on their frustrations, problems and disappointments to those who work for them.  They may be naive, or terribly misinformed, if they believe that people will work harder when they have had a good butt chewing.  They may also believe that if they, the manager, gets chewed out by the higher ups, they should be able to pass that frustration down to the people on their team.  It’s only fair, right?  This ideology is far from the truth.

There is nothing more demoralizing to a team than to catch their leader’s bad attitude.  Face it.  When a leader shows hurt, frustration, and disappointment, that attitude will pass down to their team like a cancer, rotting away all goals and  possible productivity.

People will not follow, long term, a negatively charged individual.  A negative leader will always drain the team’s battery.    The leader will be plagued by people problems.  Before long, the moral will be in the dumpster, and the team will avoid the leader.  The team will know they don’t feel good when they are around the leader.  It is never possible for a negative leader to have a positive team.

A positive leadership trait is to always pass nothing but positive things down to their team.  A leader can never, ever, show hurt.  They must always strive to stay positive.  I have heard the excuse, “but, I don’t feel positive all the time”.  Here’s a newsflash…no one does.  We all have our down days.  When suffering from a down day, it is best to either change how you are feeling, or get away from the team. The team wants, and needs, to hear how excited their leader is about the business and how great they feel about the future.  People need to feel excited and motivated and the leader sets the pace.

If a person finds themselves leading from the negative side, consciously becoming aware of what is being said around the team is the first step.  After realizing what is said, the next step is to change the attitude.  To change our attitude we must first change our state.  I am including a Tony Robbins 7 minute speech about changing your state. It goes hand in hand with today’s topic.  Enjoy!

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