More Powerful Questions for Powerful Leadership

We’ve witnessed the power that great questions have to create opportunities for innovation, problem solving, and higher levels of thinking.

Last week in Powerful Questions for Powerful Leadership, we offered you a series of questions that can help you invite higher levels of input and expand critical thinking.

We reminded you that, at Carpenter Smith Consulting, we define leadership as the willingness to influence your world and the willingness to be influenced by your world, which often means that you’ll need to invite influence.

One powerful way to create the dynamic where you’re influencing people and they’re influencing you, is to ask powerful questions. The tricky part is that questioning people without attention to the nuance of the situation can feel more like an interrogation than an invitation.

Asking questions to invite higher level thinking requires that you consider what’s right for the person(s), situation, and goals in that moment, and that you communicate verbally and non-verbally that you’re genuinely curious and want their thinking to influence your thinking.

The following questions can invite your teams and colleagues to explore what they can do to get the best out of their people and their teams.

QUESTIONS TO FOSTER ENGAGEMENT

Communication:
  • Do your people / teams know that they matter to you–that you care about them personally and that you value their contributions to the organization?
  • How will you know your team is aligned behind this vision? What would team success look like?
  • How can this team work together more effectively? How will we handle difference, conflict, and crises together?
  • What can I do to support you? What can I do that will support you without diminishing your credibility to our stakeholders?
  • What are you doing to increase your ability to have the impact that matters to you?
  • What needs to be said that you find yourself not saying?
Infrastructure:
  • Do we have the right people, with the right skills, and the right commitment at the right tables?
  • Why would great talent join or remain on your team?
  • Who are your high potential employees and what are you doing to grow them?
  • Who needs to take the lead on this and why?
  • Is the infrastructure in place to support the team? What needs our attention and resources?

We’ve witnessed the power that great questions have to create opportunities for innovation, problem solving, and higher levels of thinking.

We created a printable pdf so that you can access all of the powerful questions. Click here to download.

This week consider ways you can move from talking at people to engaging them in deeper conversations. Talking at people can seem efficient, and at times it may be, but asking questions brings people to greater ownership of success and engagement in the solutions.

If you’d like support in having
deeper engagement with your team,
contact us today about Executive Coaching.

Leading When Bad Things Happen

Last week, we talked about When Bad Things Happen to Good Companies. Sadly, it happens more often than you’d think; so it makes sense to be as prepared as possible to lead through it.

Leading through it requires communication, a commitment to transparency, and a plan of action that moves you forward. It requires that you step into The Leader in You.

The Leader in You is a transformative and practical framework for stepping into your leadership regardless of your role or title or industry.

Leadership, as we define it, is the willingness to influence your world and the willingness to be influenced by your world. It’s a way of being in the world that lets you effectively lead your life and lead in your life.

Our Leader in You framework has 3 steps to help you take back a sense of authority and control in the face of painful and difficult events.

These are extremely important in preventing and recovering from bad things!

1. Pause

Pause and ask yourself, “Is what I’m about to do or say in alignment with my goals and the organization’s goals?”

  • Take a moment before you react to consider the goals that need to guide your behavior.
  • Reacting is not leadership, but responding to the crisis at hand is.

2. Reflect

Ask yourself: “What am I afraid of in this situation? What do I do when I feel that? What would I do if I felt safe?”

  • It’s important that you know what you’re afraid of and what reaction that elicits. It’s also critical that you take action from the best of you.
  • What you would do if you felt safe?

Then ask yourself: “What are they (my team, all staff, my family, etc.) afraid of in this situation? What do they do when they feel that? What would they do if they felt safe? How do I help them feel safe?”

  • As a leader, you’ll want to try to understand and have empathy for all that your people are experiencing, and to help them feel safe enough to be at their best!

3. Act with POWER

  • Consider what’s Possible in the situation.
    • Great leadership includes trusting that there are always opportunities inherent in the obstacles and challenges you face.
  • Own that you’ll lead toward success and share why it matters to you.
    • People want to follow a human, not an idea.
    • For you to be clear that you’re committed to moving forward and through the crisis and sharing your passion for the company, builds alignment behind you.
  • Create some We-focused goals (goals that you can share with others).
    • Most of your team wants to be a part of the solution but don’t know how.
    • Last week we talked about communicate, communicate, communicate – not just to them but with them, so that they feel a part of the “we” that’s going to come out the other side.
  • Enable action forward.
    • Movement on the plan will help rebuild confidence, identify where you need to communicate more or differently, and will help you assess what you need to do to support resilience in your team and organization.
  • Review and Refine . . . and learn.
    • This isn’t a one and done process. Be sure to check in with the team regularly to make sure that they have what they need to move forward successfully.
    • Learning from and through challenge is powerful and empowering. Don’t miss the opportunity.

Then do it again!

To help you remember these steps, we’ve provided a link so that you can download our helpful action guide and pocket card. We hope that you’ll use them to embrace and develop the Leader in You.

Click to download the Leader in You Action Guide.

Click to download the Leader in You pocket card to support you day-to-day.

NOTE: This card will print at 3″ x 5” if you select “actual size” when printing. 

If the sh!t has hit the fan at your company and you’d like support in engaging with your team and creating a plan to move forward, contact us today about Executive Coaching.

When Bad Things Happen to Good Companies

We have recently been working with the leadership teams of two very different companies where the proverbial sh!t has hit the fan . . .  through no fault of their own.

A sad fact: Bad things can happen to good companies, which means that bad things can also happen to good people in those companies.

Figuring out how to move forward through a crisis is an important act of leadership, one that can help the company come out on the other side of the crisis with staff commitment and stakeholder confidence.

From our perspective there is one key behavior that can make or break success and that’s communication.

Communicate, communicate, and then communicate again.

It’s important to get control of the narrative within your organization as soon as possible. You may not be able to control what’s being said outside the company, but it’s your job to make sure that what’s being said inside the organization is accurate.

You’ll want to be as transparent as you can be within the legal bounds of the situation and then communicate in ways that help to mitigate the fear. When needed, seek legal guidance to ensure that your communications are within the bounds of the law and as open and transparent as possible.

Regularly bring the leadership team together to create a shared understanding of what has happened and to discuss corrective actions that the organization needs to implement to keep the crisis from escalating.

The team should develop a communication plan so that all staff members understand the details of the incident and how to deal with any misinformation. You’ll also want the organization to respond internally and externally with integrity and effectiveness so make sure everyone is on the same page before leaving the meeting.

If you, the team, or the organization contributed to the difficulties, own it, apologize, and be clear about what you’ve learned, how you’ll behave going forward, and how you’ll demonstrate this was the exception, not the norm. Occasionally, intentionally ignoring something makes sense but more often owning it, apologizing, and explaining next steps is the best course of action.

In business today, good companies can have bad things happen. The difference in the outcome is what the leaders do in the wake of the bad to create a more resilient and agile team, as well as to rebuild credibility and trust with external stakeholders.

This week consider whether you and the people you lead with are solid enough as a group to thrive in the wake of something bad happening in your company.

There’s no better time to build deep trust and credibility in your willingness to engage in the tough conversations, commitment to challenging self-reflection, and ability to support one another through derailing surprises than now.

If the sh!t has hit the fan at your company and you’d like support in engaging in the tough conversations, contact us today about Executive Coaching.

Using Mobile Apps to Transform Business Processes

Although mobile applications are commonplace today, most consumers think “personal use” when they think of apps. We all understand that there is an app for our favorite social media site or a card game app we can kill time with while waiting, but in what other ways can apps be leveraged, and who can benefit from them?

As our need for just-in-time information flourishes, our reliance on traditional technological processes has decreased significantly. The shift from personal computers to mobile devices has picked up now more than ever. It is difficult to determine whether stationary computers will vanish into obscurity; however, there is no doubt that mobile devices are here to stay. Our reliance on these ingenious pieces of technology is overwhelming. Tremendous time and energy are saved through the use of a mobile device, as we can access information anywhere with ease.

The expansion of new types of tasks that are carried out using mobile devices has arrived. Smartphones can solve nearly every need of their users, from providing detailed directions anywhere around the globe to enabling access to the cloud at all times. We take these benefits for granted as the opportunities provided by our devices become more and more integrated into our everyday lives.

The information that we seek is not freely floating on our devices. Mobile applications are the key to the success of these devices, as they provide a gateway to our needs as consumers. Whether it’s the weather forecast, the highest-rated local coffee shop, a traffic report, or a stock market update, it’s an app that provides the answer.

At just over one hundred billion, the number of app downloads around the world to date is astonishing. And this number is expected to grow even further in the coming years.

Although mobile applications are commonplace today, most consumers think “personal use” when they think of apps. We all understand that there is an app for our favorite social media site or a card game app we can kill time with while waiting, but in what other ways can apps be leveraged, and who can benefit from them?

The answer is businesses.

I have seen businesses of nearly every size begin to see the potential behind creating an app for customers. Retailers can now move even further online to adjust their business model to the changing times. Transportation services have created apps that convenience users by helping them navigate routes and times, all while providing pricing. Some financial institutions allow their customers to scan and digitally deposit checks from their smartphones. These applications are beneficial; however, they are far from the only practical mobile business apps.

Mobile applications for business processes are now more prominent when it comes to how businesses run from day to day. Applications created specifically for the operational side of an organization have gained traction. The benefits of employing an app for use on a mobile device to transform a business process begin with the very reason we use apps in the first place: convenience.

For example, instead of handwriting notes on data or inventory while out of the office, an application that allows data to be entered on the spot by typing or talking removes an otherwise lengthy process. That saved time can then be better spent visiting clients and prospective customers, providing convenience in an otherwise tedious operation.

Another example of a mobile app for a business’s internal use is one that facilitates mobile sales. For deals that close quickly or unexpectedly, organizations can have contracts signed electronically, no matter where a meeting may have taken them. Presentations and data can be displayed at a moment’s notice if needed, as well. Data on previous deals made with a customer can be easily accessed while heading to meet with him or her.

Mobile apps can streamline processes, including supply chain, purchasing, distribution, or maintenance processes, so that a business can run as productively as possible. With information available on demand via mobile device from one accessible location, organizations tend to increase productivity and identify areas that need further improvement, which can reduce cost inefficiencies while increasing revenue.

Communication and collaboration are improved through mobile apps for business processes, as employees begin to more clearly understand roles and discuss the discrepancies highlighted by the application. Employees instantaneously become more productive, as time is saved through the assistance that mobile applications provide.

Business applications can be purchased and modified by organizations, or designed from scratch to fit the unique needs of a business. By creating a mobile app tailored to its business, an organization gains a competitive edge from having something unique in its industry. There are dozens of businesses that specialize in creating mobile apps to fit the unique needs of their customers.

The ways in which mobile applications can be used is seemingly endless, and right now, mobile apps for business processes represent a growing Hard Trend that every organization should address, as such apps can streamline internal processes. If productivity and effectiveness are your long-term goals, ask yourself how you can use mobility to improve every business process.

Innovation leads to disruption, not being disrupted. Learn more with my bestselling book The Anticipatory Organization. I have a special offer for you.

Pick up your copy today at www.TheAOBook.com

Move Your Organization into the Communication Age

For the last several decades, we have been working hard at helping our company become an information age organization, finding new and better ways to distribute and display information. Having 24/7 access to email and web sites via our mobile devices, it’s hard to find any area in an organization that doesn’t provide access to information.

We receive more information than we can keep up with. Between numerous collaborative tools, memberships to multiple informative groups, subscriptions to paid and free information funnels, and being subject to mobile advertising, we’re literally drowning in information.

We must propel our organizations into the communication age to reach the next level of organizational excellence and to solve information overload.


Informing Versus Communicating

Informing is one-way, static, and seldom leads to action, while communicating is two-way, dynamic, and usually leads to action.

Ask yourself, “In our organization, are we better at informing than communicating?” The majority will answer “yes.” If you can’t communicate internally with your staff, how can you communicate to anyone externally? Do not stop informing people; start tapping into true communication. When you focus on maximizing two-way communications, you can create a communication age organization.

Fully embracing the communication age doesn’t erase the information age. You don’t want to erase the past; you want to move forward into the future. The “new” opens more options to innovate and lead. We did great at evolving into information age organizations, so we should move forth into the communication age in a similar fashion.


The Right Tool for the Job

Ironically, we have all these fantastic communication age tools, but we use them in an information age way due to our residual information age mindset. It’s time to learn how to use these tools in a way that advances the organization and promotes both internal and external communications. Here are suggestions that can help move your organization into the communication age.

  • Know and learn how people communicate.

Not everyone communicates in the same way. It’s common for some to not return voicemails but return text messages. Likewise, people in different generations prefer different communication tools. The key is to understand how people like to communicate. People tend to use the communication tool they’re most comfortable with. Also, ask the other party how they prefer to receive communications. If your goal is to elicit some sort of action, you have to communicate in the manner that will allow the other party to respond.

Just as people communicate differently, they also learn and absorb information differently. Some people would rather listen to a book than read it. Knowing this, it is safe to assume that person would likely prefer voicemail over email. A person’s learning style mirrors his or her communicating style. Deliver the message in a way that ties into their learning style.

  • Get social inside the organization.

Social media is all about communicating and informing. Before social media, the internet was solely for informing. Because of this shift to informing and communicating, it has been rapidly embraced by young and old alike. Companies should consider using these communication tools internally. Many social media platforms are great ways to connect employees across departments, regions, and countries. You can even have your own internal version of these popular social media platforms.

Reframing the use of social networking allows companies to increase communication, collaboration, problem solving, and competitive advantage with little cost. These tools are free or nearly free, making them accessible to organizations of any size. Embrace these tools and utilize them to enhance your communication of information that generates action and response.

  • Create community.

Two types of online communities exist: communities of interest and communities of practice. A community of practice is a professional type of community where members share their knowledge and best practices.

A community of interest is an environment where people share similar interests or passions. You can even get granular when it comes to communities of interest to filter information. Perhaps you narrow down your car community to one that only includes people who drive a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.

In your organization, you can set up virtual communities of practice in order to get people communicating ideas and sharing knowledge and expand it to diversify communication. For example, establish a community of practice for all the CEOs in your industry, which opens up the communication channels for enhanced dialogue and innovation industrywide.


Embrace the Future Today

These suggestions are aimed at improving communications rather than merely providing more information. You need to ask yourself how your organization can use these tools not only internally but also with your customers to enhance information and add communication.

Using today’s technology in a way that opens a meaningful dialogue will move your people to action and advance the organization to new levels of success.


Ready to see the future and plan with greater confidence?

Pick up a copy of my latest bestselling book The Anticipatory Organization. I’ll pick up the cost of the book if you pick up the cost of FedEx shipping. Go to www.TheAOBook.com to get your copy.