Three Must-Dos When Leading People

Communication, compassion, and clear expectations will boost employee buy-in and belonging so that you can retain your Team. 

Managing people is one of, if not the most, difficult leadership responsibilities. Leading people can sometimes feel like herding cats. If you need a good laugh during your next break, check out this hilarious commercial

The kaleidoscope of personalities, emotions, traumas, and conflicts creates challenges far beyond that of writing an email, creating a meeting agenda, designing a new program, and any other non-people-driven leadership tasks. 

How, in a world where employees leave companies at a rate higher than ever before, can you retain your most valuable commodities—your people? You do this through consistent communication, compassion, and clear expectations.

A lack of consistent communication is akin to leading a Team blind. They may feel isolated, left in the dark, and undervalued. Trust will diminish quickly without open communication. 

A leader’s level of empathy and compassion directly correlates with the Team’s joy and fulfillment. According to the Harvard Business Review, job satisfaction is 85% higher for an employee who works for a wise and compassionate leader than for an employee who does not. Empathy and compassion are powerful attributes that will enhance understanding and commitment. Without compassion, the Team moves into a compliance-driven environment.

Without clear expectations, work is based on assumptions and inefficiencies become the norm. Tear down the walls and offer clarity so that your Team has peace of mind and moves in the right direction.

Action steps to lead with enhanced communication, bolstered compassion, and clearer expectations:

  1. Communication:
    1. Transparency – With increased workplace anxieties, it is vital that the leaders practice transparency to ease tensions and decrease the fight or flight inclinations that plague our workforce when people are under heightened stress. Your employees need to feel as though you aren’t holding anything back.
    2. Close the loop – We often accomplish our tasks, but how often do we close the loop with our stakeholders? For example, if you promise to speak to your direct supervisor on behalf of a subordinate but don’t relay the conversation back to your subordinate, they lose faith in you and assume that you never had the conversation. 
    3. Listen – Practice the “4:1 – two ears, two eyes, and one mouth approach.” It can be detrimental when the leader is the only one making the decision. It also eliminates a sense of autonomy and innovation with your employees. They need to feel heard and seen.
  1. Compassion:
    1. Feedback is a team effort – The book “Nine Lies About Work” and the Harvard Business Review Article “Feedback Isn’t Enough to Help Your Employees Grow” highlight the importance of positive corrective action. “Telling people they are missing the mark is not the same as helping them hit the mark.” Work through the challenge with your employees and take ownership if you were unclear with your expectations.
    2. Honor diverse perspectives – make sure your most vulnerable feel safe so that they can contribute their best selves. If you accomplish this, your Team will have increased creativity, productivity, and joy. 
    3. Have empathy, then move into compassion – Empathy is seeing things from someone else’s perspectives, which is vital but can stall our decision making. Empathy + action = Compassion and allows us to address others’ concerns. Once you move to compassion, you can remove yourself from the emotions, ask what they need, and guide your employee to overcome their hurdles.
  1. Clear Expectations:
    1. Let go – Layout the “what” and the “why” and let your Team discover their “how.” As Harvard Business Review describes, “Leadership is about seeing and hearing others, setting a direction, and then letting go of controlling what happens next.” 
    2. Have confidence in your Team – Have faith and patience in the process. It is more powerful to be an ally than a critic. 
    3. Delegate tasks – Your people are your priority. Use this weekly check-in outline for productive conversations. If you don’t have time to check in weekly, delegate tasks that others can do so that you can check in and clarify expectations regularly. These expectations should be multilateral. The Team has expectations of their leaders and should be able to voice them. 

Do you have newly promoted leaders that you want to thrive and master their added responsibilities and challenges? Then the Lead Well program is perfect for them. SIGN UP NOW by booking a free 30-minute consultation with Laura! Only a few spots left. The next session starts in the beginning of February!

Laura Colbert Consulting Programs

  1. Lead Well: For Newly Promoted Leaders is an 8-week program that will help your newly promoted leaders thrive as they move from peer status to power status. Click here to download the one-pager. Are you a good fit for this program? SIGN UP NOW! Book a free 30-minute consultation with Laura to make sure this is the best fit for you.
  1. The Trusted Advisor Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, relentless accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results.

Additional Offerings: 

Join our central Wisconsin in-person or online Impactful Leadership Lunch. Join like-minded leaders during this monthly mastermind lunch group to improve your business efficiency, boost employee retention, and get you focused on doing what gives you joy.

Are you looking for a Keynote Speaker at your next event? I use my past experiences and knowledge to show you how to be the best version of yourself, surround yourself with the right people, and build highly productive teams. 

Book:

Sirens: How to Pee Standing Up – An alarming memoir of combat and coming back him. This book depicts the time of war and its aftermath. It seamlessly bridges the civilian and military divide and offers clarity to moral injury and post-traumatic stress. 

laura.colbert@strategicleadersacademy.com

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Sign up for a free quick coaching session here to see if we’re a good fit.

21 Lessons Learned in 2021

Last year’s life lessons translated into leadership lessons

For me, 2021 was a transformative year. I left the world of education in June and joined the Strategic Leaders Academy on July 1 as a consultant and professional speaker. It made perfect senseI have been speaking about my experience in Iraq since 2004, and I have held leadership positions in almost every facet of my life since high school. I was ready, willing, and able for this next chapter in my life.

I am abundantly happier and less stressed now that I have more control over my life. Has it always been easy? No, not at all. I had to move from the public system to private, I had to learn to “speak business,” sell and market myself, network like there’s no tomorrow, and say goodbye to the many wonderful people I worked with as a principal. It was, however, the best decision I ever madethat, or I’m making the best out of my decisionwink wink. 

I learned so much last year, especially in the past six months. Here are 21 of those lessons and how they translate into leadership:

1. The life of a principal is so tiresome that it was difficult to look for another job.

  • Make sure your employees and leaders have enough time to enjoy life and do things that can rejuvenate them. Also, how can we help the overworked school systems?

2. People are inherently good, but put them into a group with toxic people and that sludge will infiltrate even the best of people.

  • Hire the right people. Don’t compromise. If you need a body, hire on a temporary contract to see if it’s a good fit for you and them or don’t hire at all.

3. Values are not to be compromised. I was very close to doing so. I felt differently about how to deal with people than my superior. We never communicated about our fundamental values around this topic which could have alleviated a lot of stress from everyone involved. 

  • Be explicit about your values and expectations so that you hire people who’ve bought-in to your core values. Don’t assume your employees have the same values as you. Have a conversation with them and make sure their values align with your Team’s common purpose, vision, and mission.

4. Autonomy, creativity, and innovation are inextricably linked. 

  • The more autonomy your employees have, the more innovation and creativity will occur. This will also boost belonging and buy-in—a win/win.

5. Everyone has advice. All the time. No matter who you are or if you asked for it. Audit this advice. It has the power to overwhelm and shut down.

  • See my article on feedback for more information. Hire a trusted advisor to help you weed out the feedback that matters.

6. People act in mysterious ways.

  • You are the only person you can control. Sometimes it’s hard to “let it go,” but you will be much happier when you can move on from a difficult situation. 

7. Control of my time sounds better in my head than in my guilty conscience. By that, I mean that even though I have complete control, it’s hard not to work all the time. Something always needs to be done.

  • Make sure your Team is taking their much-needed and much-deserved time off. If you lead by example, they will follow. If you show up to work before sunrise and leave after sunset, they will feel like they have to do the same and may become resentful.

8. There are so many amazing and wonderful people out there.

  • Get to know your Team on a personal level. It will make difficult conversations much easier with a solid foundation intact.

9.  Social Media is a time suck. I already knew this one, but I had never worked with LinkedIn before. I’ve found it especially challenging to make sure I’m doing what is best for my business while maintaining boundaries. 

  • Keep track of how much time you spend on social media. Increase your productivity at work to increase your time off at home.

10. Talk at the speed of trust. As a type-A personality, I need to make sure that I’m not moving too fast for my clients. 

  • Sometimes too much information can be damaging. Know who you’re talking to and how to talk to them.

11. It’s easy to get stuck in hypnotic habits. 

  • So often we think we’re busting our humps at work, but in reality, we’re spending all of our time in emails and meetings without working on our business. 

12. “Commission breath” is a real thing

  • Make sure you build trust before you start using the salesperson swagger.

13. Avoid “putting your great ladder along the wrong wall.”

  • Make sure your vision aligns with your outcomes. Otherwise, burnout is inevitable.

14. The longer you spend working within your strengths, the happier you’ll be and the more productive and innovative you will become.

  • For many, working on our weaknesses is a badge of honor, but it might not be a point of joy or passion. Delegate as much as possible and do what brings you joy to boost productivity at work.

15. My brain shuts down between 2 and 3 pm every day. This is my low point and when I need to take a break, go for a walk, or get a snack to re-energize. 

  • Pay attention to your natural rhythms and align your work to those rhythms. For example, I am most productive in the morning. This is when I sit in the quiet and create. I try to have my meetings with others in the afternoons because they re-energize me and get me away from my screens.

16. It costs 50%-200% of someone’s salary to rehire for their position. 

  • Putting people first is a must in today’s great recession. If you want to learn more about how this trend will continue, read this ebook—Demographic Drought

17. You have a choice. So many people have told me that they wish they could do what I did by quitting their 9-5 job.

  • Here’s the secret: YOU CAN! It’s a choice. We all have them. It’s about making the most out of the decisions you choose to make.

18. Living without fear is liberating. I am an all-in type of person. I love new experiences and I love to meet new people. From backpacking to Europe, to purchasing my first house as a single person, to marrying my husband in 4.5 months of meeting himmy lack of fear has provided me with abundant joy and amazing opportunities. 

  • My lack of fear is based on realistic optimism and grit. I am one of the most fiscally conservative humans you’ll meet. Please tread lightly and logically with this one. But by all means, don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back.

19. Authenticity is key. I’m a people pleaser but the more I’m myself, the happier I am.

  • Choose you! You’re the only one we’ve got.

20. Rely on your network. When I’m stuck, down in the dumps, or need a thought partner, I have amazing individuals to reach out to. Thank you to Chris Kolenda and Jeff Marquez for being my top two go-tos!

  • Don’t try to lone-wolf it. Who do you go to when you need help? Remember, I’m here if you need me!

21.  Family Firstmy “why.” These four cuties are what make me the happiest. I love watching the kids learn and grow and become their own little humans. As long as I prioritize my family, I feel successful and they know they’re loved. 

  • What’s your “why” and how can you prioritize that?

Which of my programs is a right fit for you?

  1. Lead Well: For Newly Promoted Leaders is an 8-week program that will help your newly promoted leaders thrive as they move from peer status to power status. The next program begins at the beginning of February. There are only 8 spaces available. Click here to download the one-pager. Are you a good fit for this program? SIGN UP NOW! Book a free 30-minute consultation with Laura to make sure this is the best fit for you.
  1. The Trusted Advisor Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days you’ll gain habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, relentless accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results.
  1. Join our central Wisconsin in-person or online Impactful Leadership Lunch. Join like-minded leaders during this monthly mastermind lunch group to improve your business efficiency, boost employee retention, and get you focused on doing what gives you joy.
  1. Looking for a Keynote Speaker at your next event? I use my past experiences and knowledge to show you how to be the best version of yourself, surround yourself with the right people, and build highly productive teams. 

Book:

Sirens: How to Pee Standing Up – An alarming memoir of combat and coming back him. This book depicts the time of war and its aftermath. It bridges the civilian and military divide and offers clarity to moral injury and post-traumatic stress. 

laura.colbert@strategicleadersacademy.com

Get this newsletter delivered to your inbox. Click Here.

Sign up for a free quick coaching session here to see if we’re a good fit.

Lead Well: 8 Week Program for Newly Promoted Leaders 

This exciting, innovative new program is designed specifically for recently promoted leaders to boost their culture, fill the “gaps” in their processes, and build strong teams.

Get your newly promoted leaders prepared to hit the ground running by doing the right things the right way. Lead Well will teach, inspire, and motivate your leaders so that they can build a solid foundation. 

Lead Well breaks through the Peter Principle and provides the essential tools for newly promoted leaders. So often, leaders are great at what they do and then they’re promoted and left with little to no leadership training—a recipe for disaster. This program will rectify that problem by enhancing their abilities and behaviors and creating a leadership plan that is catered to each individual and their specific needs. 

Do you have newly promoted leaders? If so, follow these action steps:

  • Once you sign your leaders up for success you can breathe easy because you care about your people! Take tomorrow off – you deserve it.

The bottom line: Set your leaders up for success. If you think I might be a good fit to help with this then here are some options: 

  • Here is a partial list of results my clients typically gain: 
    • Lead with authenticity so that you lead as your best self and prune away what holds you back. 
    • Clarify your performance and behavioral expectations so that you can hold people accountable for results without feeling like a jerk.
    • Inspire your employees to contribute their best and most authentic selves to your team’s success.
    • Set and maintain clear priorities so that your time, talent, and energy have the highest impact. 
    • Get the right people in the right roles doing the right things so that you boost productivity 2X – 3X and plug the drain on employee turnover. 
    • Make smart decisions amid turbulence and uncertainty so that you can innovate and lead change while avoiding expensive mistakes. 
    • Gain peace of mind to focus on strategy and growth because your team is committed to shared goals within a winning culture.

laura.colbert@strategicleadersacademy.com

Get this newsletter delivered to your inbox. Click Here.

Sign up for a free quick coaching session here to see if we’re a good fit.

“Laura is an amazing person, leader, and consultant. She is trustworthy and actively listens. Laura shares objective approaches to problem-solving. You need to do business with Laura!”

-Heidi Cuff – Healthcare Business Leader, MHI, BSN, RN

Three Ways To Help Your New Leaders Maintain Passion and Joy in Their Job

You just promoted one of your best workers into a leadership position. They are rocking it. They are putting in the time, arriving first and leaving last, getting the job done, and the energy seems to never cease. Are you worried? Perhaps you should be. 

Like all new things, there is a honeymoon period—a time when the grass couldn’t be greener. Relationships are new and exciting, the new leader is powering through, making decisions, and learning the ropes.

But then someone doesn’t agree with their idea, a plan didn’t go as planned, or there is an interpersonal conflict. The long days soon catch up with them. Their kids are growing up before their eyes but they’ve missed many special moments because they were too engrossed in the work. The new leader grows resentful and starts to burn out. 

Is it too late to change course, to start coming in later and leave a little earlier, to downshift on their new initiatives? How can they get the energy, drive, passion, zest, and commitment back? We’ve all heard that in today’s stressful world we need to “slow down,” and “take care of ourselves.” 

Hiring a new leader is an investment. It can cost up to 200% of their annual salary to replace an employee. If their salary is $100,000 a year and they decide to leave, you could lose up to $200,000 in order to replace them. What business can afford to waste this much money? What could you do with $200,000 to grow your business? 

Make sure you invest in the proper leadership training so that your newly promoted leaders can succeed and thrive within your organization. Additionally, how do you, as a leader of leaders, model the slow and steady approach and convey the message that being a leader is more of a marathon than a sprint. What kind of conversations are you having with your new leader to help them take care of themselves? 

Help your newly promoted leaders maintain passion and joy with these simple action steps:

  • Meet with your new leaders often. Once a week is a great timeline. Use our weekly check-in method to keep the conversation on the right track. Ask them the tough questions to find out how they’re doing and provide support when needed. Celebrate their wins and compliment their successes.
  • Model, model, model. Show them how to lead in tough situations, role-play crucial conversations, display an appropriate amount of work/life balance, and exhibit your own joy in passion for the work—it’s contagious!
  • Create clear expectations that go both ways. Make the relationship one of respect and reciprocity and the communication lines will remain open and honest. 

The bottom line: Set your leaders up for success. If you think I might be a good fit to help with this then here are some options: 

  1. The Trusted Advisor Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days you’ll gain habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, relentless accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results.
  1. Lead Well: For Newly Promoted Leaders is an 8-week program that will help your newly promoted leaders thrive as they move from peer status to power status. The next program begins at the beginning of February. There are only 8 spaces available. Click here to download the one-pager. Are you a good fit for this program? SIGN UP NOW! Book a 30-minute appointment with Laura to make sure this is the best fit for you.

Additional Offerings: 

Join our central Wisconsin in-person or online Impactful Leadership Lunch. Join like-minded leaders during this monthly mastermind lunch group to improve your business efficiency, boost employee retention, and get you focused on doing what gives you joy.

Looking for a Keynote Speaker at your next event? I use my past experiences and knowledge to show you how to be the best version of yourself, surround yourself with the right people, and build highly productive teams. 

laura.colbert@strategicleadersacademy.com

Get this newsletter delivered to your inbox. Click Here.

Sign up for a free quick coaching session here to see if we’re a good fit.

WHO ARE YOU GOING TO CALL?

You’re having a rough week. You are not getting applicants for an important job opening within your organization, your team hit an impasse on a difficult decision and they aren’t getting along, you’re working too many hours and feel inadequate when it comes to being a good parent and/or significant other, your housework is getting behind, and it’s been months since you took any time for yourself. Who are you going to call?  According to a recent LinkedIn Poll, 43% will call a trusted advisor and 43% will reach out to their peer network. Let me ask you this, do you have a trusted advisor or a reliable peer network? Perhaps you do, but what about your newly promoted leaders? How are they doing? To whom are they reaching out? Have you set them up for success when they have a difficult day, week, month, or year? How are you creating resiliency within your leadership team? 

A trusted advisor can use their prior experience to help your new leaders understand what to do and what NOT to do. Many times, leaders reach for immediate action. It’s in the fiber of our beings and lets our employees know that we get things done. Sometimes, however, this is not what needs to be done and only prior experience can give us the wherewithal to make this kind of calculated decision. 

Additionally, a trusted advisor provides advice, pushes innovation, offers clarity, and presents a variety of perspectives. Notice in the diagram below that the chaos zone looks chaotic because sometimes we are so entrenched in our work that we do not see how the dots connect. Therefore, most leaders stay in their comfort zone. A trusted adviser helps you to connect the dots so that you can transition into the progress zone.

Set your newly promoted leaders up for success with these simple action steps:

  • Hire a trusted advisor to help them through their difficult moments.
  • Provide networking opportunities to expand their newfound peer group. 
  • Be there when your leaders need you. Give them grace and understanding as they discover their leadership potential.

The bottom line: Seek out advisors that you trust to help your first-line leaders. If you think I might be a good fit then here are some options: 

  1. The Trusted Advisor Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days you’ll gain habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, relentless accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results.
  2. Lead Well: For Newly Promoted Leaders is an 8-week program that will help your newly promoted leaders thrive as they move from peer status to power status. The next program begins at the beginning of February there are only eight spaces available. Click here for more information. Call or email to apply.

Additional Offerings: 

Join our central Wisconsin in-person or online Impactful Leadership Lunch. Join like-minded leaders during this monthly mastermind lunch group to improve your business efficiency, boost employee retention, and get you focused on doing what gives you joy.

Looking for a Keynote Speaker at your next event? I use my past experiences and knowledge to show you how to be the best version of yourself, surround yourself with the right people, and build highly productive teams.  

laura.colbert@strategicleadersacademy.com

Get this newsletter delivered to your inbox. Click Here.