More Powerful Questions for Powerful Leadership

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.

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Powerful Questions for Powerful Leadership

At Carpenter Smith Consulting, we define leadership as the willingness to influence your world and the willingness to be influenced by your world.

In practice, that often means that you’ll need to invite influence, and there’s no better way to do so than with a great question.

By great question, we’re talking about a question that’s right for the person(s), situation, and goals in that moment.

When possible, consider beforehand the questions you want to bring to a conversation, meeting, or presentation.

Today, we’re sharing some of the questions that we’ve found invite higher levels of input and expand critical thinking. Next week, we’ll share questions that invite an exploration of how to get the best out of individuals and teams.

Remember to pause after you ask a question and give people time to consider what you’ve asked. If you jump into the silence, you will teach them that they don’t have to answer if they can wait you out.

QUESTIONS TO FOSTER INPUT AND CRITICAL THINKING

Benefits/Concerns/Suggestions (one we use often!):
In response to a proposal, plan, or initiative, ask individuals or teams to consider these questions in this order:
  • What are the benefits of this idea? (It’s the norm to see the reasons not do something new and innovative. Getting them to think first about the idea’s benefits opens them to a more effective assessment.)
  • What concerns do you have?
  • What suggestions would you make?
Vision/Obstacles/Areas of Focus:
  • What are your hopes for the project, department, organization? What does success look like, feel like, live like?
  • What obstacles get in the way of success?
  • What can you do to get around the obstacles, and where do you need to focus your efforts to mitigate the obstacles?
Getting People to Move Beyond Initial (Often Flat) Response:
  • Tell me what went into your thinking? What’s your rationale for moving forward in this way?
  • Say more about that? or just Say more?
Predicting Impact:
  • Imagine describing your plan to the team/department/organization – what do you expect their response will be?
  • What do you anticipate will be the ripples of this decision across the organization?
  • How does this support our vision? Strategy? Success?
To Determine Risk:
  • What are the benefits of action? What are the costs of action?
  • Is this problem an event or a pattern?
  • If there were no risks, what would you do?
Resources/Rules:
  • If you had limitless resources, what would you do?
  • What rules do we need to follow? What rules should we be breaking?

This week, spend some time exploring whether you can attain higher levels of thinking, engagement, and ownership by asking questions that invite the wisdom and expertise of your colleagues and team.

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.

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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.

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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.

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Your Dream Employee – Start with Purpose

 
Last week we finished up the Your Dream Job series and shared a video synopsis of Daniel H. Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.

As you’ll recall, the book summarized the key motivators for most adults as Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

In our consulting, we work with leaders to consider these three motivators but in reverse order: PurposeMastery, and Autonomy.

As we’ve worked with leaders on how to lead using this helpful perspective, we’ve started to coach them on using this exact same framework to increase the chances of hiring their dream employee.

There are very few people who find the task of hiring an easy one, and the research suggests that somewhere between 40 – 50% of hires fail. Poor hires have significant costs, so it makes sense that it’s stressful!

We’ve found that using the framework of purpose, mastery, and autonomy in your hiring process can increase the odds of success. Consider this as you’re creating a role description, advertising for a position, and interviewing candidates.

PURPOSE:
Is this candidate aligned with the organization’s and the leader’s purpose?

  • Often when we suggest this to retailers or organizations that are for-profit, the leaders will say that there is not really a purpose to be aligned with.
  • All organizations have a sense of purpose whether named or not and you’ll be more successful in hiring if you name it and hire for it. If your organization doesn’t have a named purpose, ask yourselves these questions:
    • What do we actually value? For example:
      • Serving people
      • Making money
      • Growing territory
      • Supporting the community with jobs
      • Exposing people to wonderful design at a reasonable price point
  • What do the people who have been most successful in the organization value and get excited by?
  • What do you, as the hiring manager, care about? For example, one hiring manager we spoke with said he wanted to work with people who:
      • Leaned toward action
      • Loved working within a team setting to create success
      • Loved helping the organization stand out in their industry

MASTERY:
Assess if the person has the mastery needed to do the job now or the potential and passion to develop the mastery needed.

  • Ask yourself these questions:
      • What’s the candidate’s skillset and in what situations have they been most successful?
      • Do they seem to love to do the work that’s needed, or do they seem like they’re doing it because ‘it’s a job’?
      • If they don’t yet have mastery, what data do you have that indicates that they learn quickly and well without high demands on the team, who are already working hard?

AUTONOMY:
When an employee is both aligned with the purpose of the organization and has demonstrated consistent mastery of the skills critical to their work then it’s time to continue to motivate them by allowing them increasing levels of autonomy.

  • Giving strong employees autonomy recognizes their success and takes some of the work off your shoulders—a double win.
  • Ask yourself these questions:
      • Have I been clear with the candidate that this is the way we do things?
          • Hire
          • Orient
          • Train
          • Assess alignment with purpose and demonstration of mastery before we give them autonomy
          • Continue to give them greater levels of autonomy as they demonstrate growth in mastery and continued alignment with purpose
      • Does this candidate seem to genuinely understand your rationale for this approach and get excited to demonstrate how they can contribute to organizational success?
      • Is the candidate curious about what will make them invaluable to your team?

This week, consider how you can use this simple and powerful framework to hire your dream employee! It will make your life, your work, and your organization more successful.

If you’re finding that you’re stressed out about
the hiring process and would like support,
contact us today about Executive Coaching.

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Your Dream Job – Start with Purpose

As we continue our series on your dream job, we’d like to suggest you consider the research cited in Daniel H. Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.

We know that life is full, and it can be hard to find the time to read a book these days; so, if you’re too busy, we’ve included a 10-minute “Cliff note” YouTube version of it that’s fun to watch and easy to digest. It will forever change how you approach motivating yourself and motivating others!

In Drive, Pink describes the research on what motivates us humans. While money is important to some extent, for most people once they have enough money to do most of what matters to them, the three core ways by which most people are motivated are autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

We’ve found that in considering whether your work is good for you and truly motivating, if you flip the order of these three motivators, it can give you a path forward:

    • Purpose: If your work is aligned with your sense of purpose, you’ll be more energized and motivated in your life.
    • Mastery: If you’re using the skills and strengths that you love and are seen as an expert, you’re more likely to feel accomplished and valued for your contributions.

    • Autonomy: Once you’ve mastered the skills required to fulfill your purpose, then you’ll want to be granted some level of autonomy to do the work that energizes and motivates you.

Take some time today to think about your purpose, your level of mastery, and how much autonomy works best for you and your workplace. Motivating yourself or others is an ongoing process—it will be iterative as you move through the phases of your success path.

Click here to watch a video adapted from Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, which illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace.

If you’d like support in identifying what motivates you,
contact us today about Career Coaching.

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Your Dream Job – The Big Rocks

Over the past two weeks, we have been talking about Your Dream Job and some core questions you can ask yourself to begin to move toward work that’s more meaningful, satisfying, and that supports you living a life that you love.

Today, we’re going to talk about exploring your dream job through the lens of your priorities and what brings you a sense of meaning and purpose. In many ways, these are the big rocks in the jar that’s your life.

In school, some of us had a science teacher who gave us a pile of differently sized rocks and told us to put them in a jar. We randomly piled them into the jar but ran out of space before we had all of the rocks in. That’s when we learned that if you put the big rocks in first, the smaller rocks will fill in the spaces around the big rocks and they would all fit nicely into that same jar.

This is a little like our lives. We’re all busy with a lot of small and mid-sized rocks. They fill our lives and consume our energy. Yet, we’ll be more powerful and successful in life and work if we consider our big rocks – our life priorities and those things that bring us a sense of meaning and purpose.

This week, we’d encourage you to consider the 3-5 priorities that are most important to you in creating a life you love and feel proud of. If you haven’t ever done our Life Priorities, download it today to help you with this process. It’s a good way to identify your core big rocks.

Once done, take a few minutes to explore what truly brings you a sense of meaning and purpose in life. The following questions can help:

Do you have a sense of your purpose in life?

  • What are you passionate about? What brings you great joy? What really pisses you off?
  • What do you find yourself looking at when you walk into a bookstore?
  • If you didn’t have to work for money, what would you do with your time?
  • If you had a million dollars to give away, where would you give it?

Once you’ve considered your big rocks (priorities, meaning, and purpose), ask yourself, “What do I need from work to maximize getting these?”

This week explore what your dream job looks like and how you can get closer to that vision.

When you put your big rocks in the jar of your life first, you’ll be sure you’re creating a life in which you truly matter.

If you’d like more meaning and purpose in your work,
contact us today about Career Coaching.

 

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Your Dream Job – Next Steps

In last week’s post, Your Dream Job, we had you do a quick assessment about whether or not you were satisfied in your current job.

Today, we’d like to encourage you to begin to take some small steps forward toward the career of your dreams.

Whether it’s finding a new role, a new place to work, or influencing your current workplace, what are some small steps you can take to get closer to doing work that you love in an environment where you thrive?

  1. Look over the assessment checklist from last week (click here if you haven’t done it yet).
  2. Write down any items from the list that you wish you had but didn’t check.
  3. Identify 1-2 small steps you can take this week to start creating a working world where you’ll thrive.

It’s never the wrong time to evaluate your career and to think about whether or not you’re doing work that you love in an environment where you thrive.

You matter.

This year, our commitment is to support you in mattering to yourself so that you can live a full and successful life.

If this sounds good to you in theory but you’re having a hard time
getting started, contact us today about Career Coaching.

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Your Dream Job

Are you in your Dream Career? Are you satisfied with your current role or should you consider making a move?

It’s never the wrong time to evaluate your career
and to think about whether or not you’re doing work
that you love in an environment where you thrive. 

Do a quick scan of your work life using the prompts below, and ask yourself, “Would I apply for (and be thrilled to be offered) the job I currently occupy?”

If the answer is yes: Congratulations! You’re in the right place.

  • Be sure to ask yourself this question regularly so that the job continues to be one that you enjoy and value.
  • And, at this time when you’re happy, we strongly recommend you update your resume so it reflects those things that led you to answer “yes”—those things that truly bring you joy in your work.

If the answer is no, then it’s time to consider how to move toward work that will bring a “yes.”

Which of the following statements are true for you? If you’d like to use this as a checklist, click here for a printable PDF version.

  • Work is more than a paycheck.
  • Work is bringing meaning to my life.
  • Work inspires me and offers me an opportunity to feel valued for my contributions.
  • I’m proud and satisfied when I talk about my work to others.
  • I have a resume that accurately represents who I really am.
  • I lead with the skills that I want to use in a job—the skills I want to offer the world. (Be careful not to list the skills you can do but have no desire to do; remember, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.)
  • I stay connected to people who support me in my work.
  • As part of this connection, I ask about their lives and work, honoring the relationship before talking about myself.
  • I show my energy and enthusiasm as I talk to people about my skills and passions.
  • I don’t get caught by job titles but talk instead about the ways I can be a solution to my organization.

Listen to yourself and check in regularly. No one has a perfect work life but you can move closer to work that’s engaging, inspiring, and impactful if you pause from time to time to reflect on what matters to you.

Make this year great by taking time to reflect on what your Dream Career looks like!

Feeling stuck? Not sure what steps to take to move forward with a career change? We can help! Contact us today about Career Coaching.

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Power and Humility

This year, our focus is to support you in mattering to yourself and in creating environments where people matter. Mattering to yourself is not about becoming narcissistic or thinking you matter above all others. It’s about honoring yourself so you know what matters to you and can then take action on behalf of the people and causes that you care about.

So, today, we’re sharing some excerpts from an article about Humility that spoke to us. There’s a link to the full article at the end.

The Paradoxical Power of Humility:
Why humility is under-rated and misunderstood

Karl Albrecht Ph.D.
BrainSnacks

Humility is widely under-rated in most Western cultures, it seems to me. It’s also widely misunderstood – maybe that’s why it’s under-rated.

Our popular-media culture is saturated with themes of conflict, combat, and conquest. Popular films feature cops chasing crooks; the military fighting terrorists; the lone avenger pursuing the evil-doers. We say we love peace makers, but our heroes are warriors. As a society, we like our celebrities to be cheeky, self-important, and even a bit narcissistic.

Little wonder that humble people seem a bit strange to us, as if they’re following some syncopated life rhythm that few people around them quite “get.”

Having claimed that humility is misunderstood, I suppose it’s incumbent on me to offer a definition.

What is humility? It’s a subtle concept, and I find myself having to frame it mostly in terms of what it is not. My conception of humility is what you have when you give up certain self-aggrandizing thought patterns, reflexes, and behaviors. I offer the proposition – and the value judgment – that humility is a kind of liberation, a paradoxical state of freedom from the culturally imposed norms of narcissistic “me-first” thinking.

Practitioners of many spiritual traditions, such as Buddhism, would say that attaining such a state is a necessary part of the journey toward enlightenment.

Humility is about emotional neutrality. It involves an experience of growth in which you no longer need to put yourself above others, but you don’t put yourself below them, either. Everyone is your peer – from the most “important” person to the least. You’re just as valuable as every other human being on the planet, no more and no less. It’s about behaving and reacting from purpose, not emotions. You learn to simply disconnect or de-program the competitive reflex in situations where it’s not productive.

Humility is less a matter of self-restraint and more a matter of self-esteem. The greater your sense of self-worth, the easier it is to appreciate others, to praise them, and to encourage them

Does this mean that it’s wrong to try to win at bridge, or improve your tennis game, or compete to get ahead in your work place? Of course not – those are parts of a separate dimension of life. Your talents and abilities will speak for themselves. What we’re dealing with here is a matter of social intelligence, which involves inviting people to move with and toward you, instead of away and against you.

A well-developed sense of humility shines through in your behavior toward others. They feel affirmed, appreciated, encouraged, validated, and psychically nourished. Most of us are powerfully drawn to people who treat us that way, like bees to flowers.

This full article, posted in Psychology Today on January 8, can be found here.

In Carpenter Smith Consulting language, the deepest longing of all human beings is to matter.

When we matter to ourselves,
and we treat others like they matter,
amazing things happen.

If you’d like support in showing your team
that they matter, our Executive Coaching could
be for you. Contact us today to learn more.

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