Leadership: Can you Really Handle the Truth?

handle the truthAs leaders we often tell our staff and colleagues to “be open” “tell me how you are really feeling”, but what if they actually did? What if you didn’t like or agree with what they had to say about you? Would you be able to handle it? It’s easy to look at others and form opinions about their work style, how they communicate with others and the quality of their work product, but what about us? Are we so grandiose that our colleagues and subordinates should adulate our mere presence?
We all have our way of doing things and maybe many of those ways are the “right” way, but sometimes we do crazy things as humans – we make mistakes. We may overlook and underestimate the uniqueness of people and their contributions to the workplace. When you are good at what you do, it’s easy to get comfortable.  There may be instances where you shut people out of decision-making or refuse to listen to fresh ideas and new perspectives. In business, change is crucial to organizational sustainability and without it, a company will not survive.
Leadership is an ongoing learning process. Successful leaders understand the best way to lead is to have people in your circle and on your leadership team who are not afraid to have open candid conversations with you. I call these people “the realist”. They bring you back down to earth when you get ahead of yourself and balance you when you need it. Good leaders are humble. They believe in the overall good and are not focused on how good they look.  If you don’t have people on your team willing to disagree with you without being afraid, then you need to make some adjustments. Leading to a bunch of yessers is a foolish mistake.
Jack Welch on Leaders at the top: “You’ve got to look in the mirror every morning and be totally self-effacing,” he says. “Give yourself a critical review.” – New York’s World Business Forum – 2012
Ask yourself these questions to get back on the right track.
1. Do you always have an answer/response when someone criticizes your decisions? The “I’m right, you’re wrong” attitude?
2. Are you willing to take suggestions or recommendations from subordinates? Are you an ego-maniac?
3. When clients are not pleased with a service or work product, do you think they are being unreasonable or picky?
4. Do you find yourself debating and defending your position when in meetings, often attempting to convince others to agree with your viewpoint?
Good leaders understand and accept their imperfections. They embrace the fact that every decision made will not be the right one, but most importantly they appreciate the learning experience. There is almost always something we can improve on in our behavior and communication. If you don’t believe you need to improve on any area, you are sadly mistaken and I implore you to take action now.

Good Leaders Have the Guts to Make Hard Decisions

“Trust instinct to the end, even though you can give no reason.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

FEAR is the reason most people don’t act using their gut instincts. They wrestle internally with themselves because they are afraid of what others may think. Afraid of rejection. Afraid of embarrassment. Afraid of success. Ultimately, success is what you are sacrificing when you do not act on your instinct to make tough decisions. You see, we all have a uniqueness about ourselves. Our uniqueness allows us to differentiate ourselves from others, giving us an advantage in every situation.

“When you’re living by instinct, then you will naturally enhance everything and everyone around you. In other words, success will come naturally! When both your intellect and instincts are aligned, then producing the fruits of your labors brings satisfaction beyond measure.” ― T.D. Jakes, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn DrivePUSH THE BUTTON

If you are driven by a genuine desire for growth you must make decisions based on the greater good. You cannot be influenced by other people who try to project their fears onto you.

Now don’t misunderstand me here. I do believe making serious decisions requires one to strategically lay out the pros and cons; however, good leaders are not afraid to push the button and they are not afraid to take the blame if it all goes wrong. Because a good leader appreciates the process either way. There is no failure. There is winning and then there is learning. Which circumstance will you face today?

What Does Your Body Language Say About You? Helpful Tips on Effective Communication

the office meetingDoes your mouth say the same thing as your body? The gestures we make during conversation often tell a very different story than the words coming out of our mouth. Even when we don’t use our words, our bodies still display some form of emotion.

For instance, have you ever had a conversation with someone who says yes while nodding their head no? Their mouths are saying one thing, but everything else about them is screaming the opposite. In conversation, we may even find ourselves making facial expressions similar to those we are talking to without even realizing it.

When interacting with people, it’s always important to be aware of your facial expressions. Although there is no exact science to body language many employers can still pick up on slouching, eye contact, folded arms and head tilts to determine how engaged or disengaged employees or candidates are during meetings or interviews.

Be aware. Of course we can’t walk around staring at ourselves in mirrors all day (even though some people do); we can definitely try to control our facial expressions by remembering our bodies naturally exude what we are thinking. When we feel pain, happiness or anger, our faces show it. In a professional setting, thinking positively will likely allow you to give off a positive facial expression without even trying.

Don’t jump to conclusions. It’s important not to jump to conclusions when you see a facial expression you believe to be related to nervousness, boredom or lying. Some expressions are often misunderstood and subject to negative reaction from others. I’ve been told I’m guilty of this. When I’m deep into thought, my face is so serious, I can look extremely unapproachable. Now while I know I’m not upset or unhappy about something in particular, others would have no way of knowing without asking. Body language is relative to perception and perceptions are open for interpretation depending on our own life experiences and moods.

Ask questions to clarify. If you are in conversation with someone and you are unsure or uncomfortable because their gestures are confusing, just ask. If workers seem disengaged, get their attention by asking them to elaborate more or share their thoughts. Who doesn’t like talking about themselves and giving their opinions anyway, right? There is no better way to resolve a misunderstanding than to be direct. You’ll avoid conflict and continue moving forward with ease.

The way we communicate with people will directly affect the way they will communicate with us. Someone may be in a terrible mood and you, being able to bring a positive vibe to the conversation; having the ability to look past the negative, could change the atmosphere for the better. Change begins with you! Things don’t always have to end how they begin.

The Key to Creating Valuable Relationships

Recently I was reminded of the importance in giving to receive. Naturally we tend to have an expectation of others to give to us without first considering how we can be of service to them. When we go about our daily routines, we expect to receive things like great customer service in a restaurant even though we’re on our cell phones, never making eye contact. Or perhaps landing a new account, while never uttering the words “what do you need?”; being too focused on what we want to get from a prospect.

Think about the people in your life within your closest circle; some very dear to your heart. They have, in one form or another proven deserving of your time and support.  Whether it’s through a display of affection, love, advice, finances or encouragement, they have impacted or influenced your life somehow, creating a lasting impression causing you to remain committed to maintaining your relationship with them.

While it’s easy to describe the things we value; the challenge is to find out how to create value for others. The solution may be easier than you think.

Creating value is personal.

There’s a saying: “It’s not personal, its business.” Every time I hear it, I think of my all time favorite movie, You’ve Got Mail where the remarkable Meg Ryan says to Tom Hanks, “……what’s so wrong with being personal anyway? Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin with being personal.” I couldn’t agree more.

Our jobs, our friends, our families, hobbies and interests are all personal. Before we interact with others, we must try to consider these things. Creating a personal connection plays a vital role in laying the foundation for valuable relationships to form.Person examines value

Here are some key ways to creating valuable relationships with others.

Make it Personal. Try to find a common area you are passionate about when meeting new people. Being able to relate to someone on a personal level can remove any added pressure or nervousness in making new contacts. Doing this will leave a lasting impression. People will always remember how you made them feel.

Be honest. A relationship built on dishonesty will not last. People do business with those they can trust. Likability isn’t everything. See The Honest Model.

Be reliable. Strive to be the person others can count on to come through in a time of need. Possessing this trait will prove to be an invaluable asset. You will create a closer bond leading to exposure and opportunity for you personally and professionally.

Be consistent. Consistency is key in developing trust. Unpredictable behavior does not provide the safety and security people need when committing to a relationship.

Value can only be determined by the receiver. What is valuable to you, may not be valuable to someone else. The key is to find out what others value and become a resource or provider for that.

“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4 New King James Version (NKJV)

Why Power Does not Equal Leadership

In the famous words of Dwight D. Eisenhower, “You do not lead by hitting people over the head — that’s assault, not leadership.”Superman

We all have power on some level or another. How we use that power is very different depending on circumstance and motive. Our use of power varies depending on our understanding of it and our decision to either use it for the good of others or use it to benefit ourselves.

I’ve found it’s often assumed that someone with power is automatically considered to be a person of leadership. Now I agree there may be instances where the two characteristics meet, but both shouldn’t be assumed if only one of these exists.

For example, are all celebrities leaders? Or are they arguably talented and/or unique individuals simply more visible to the public eye? Should we mix these descriptions by placing leadership expectations on such a group of people? Even when they do not possess leadership characteristics? Hmmm, that’s something to think about.

Power vs. Leadership

What is Power?

By definition, power is the ability to do or act; one having the capability of doing or accomplishing something by way of force and strength. Now this is not to be mistaken with having a leadership skill. For instance, there is no doubt the President has authority and power to start a war. Now whether he has the leadership skill to execute a war successfully is something that must be proved.

What is Leadership?

Unlike power, leadership is defined as guiding or directing a group with authoritativeness, influence, command, effectiveness, sway or clout.

Not everyone with power is skilled enough to get others to willingly act on their behalf. Having power and authority isn’t everything. People may work for you because they fear your wrath, but be sure to know they absolutely will not give you their best work under those conditions. You see, the only way workers produce at their very best level is when the goal to achieve becomes their personal desire, not the desire of someone else.

According to Forbes online contributor Kevin Kruse, “Leadership stems from social influence, not authority or power”. I totally agree!

While a manager or boss may use their power to push one into a direction by way of force, leaders use their influence to guide others towards the direction they personally desire to go.

Sure, you can use power to do many things, but getting people to believe in a vision influencing them to deliver great work, create new things and produce innovative ideas is not done through power. These awesome acts are done through leadership.

MDD-160Mary V. Davids is Principal Consultant at D&M Consulting Services, LLC., and creator of the Honest Model™. Mary has over a decade of experience in cultivating employee engagement, enhancing workplace performance, career coaching, leadership coaching and training & development. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management. To connect with Mary, you can follow her on twitter @MVDavids or you can email her at maryd@honestleadership.org

Why Honesty in Business Equals Success Part 3

Honesty requires courage.The road less traveled

Have the courage to say No. Have the courage to face the Truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity. ~ W. Clement Stone

No one is void of error. So you would think it would be more acceptable when we make mistakes right? I bet you can turn on the television this very second and find one political party bashing the other for what they consider to be a mistake in judgment or policy. Imagine how difficult it is for someone being publicly condemned for making a mistake to come out, admit the mistake and be truthful about their fault. It takes a heck of a lot of courage to do such a thing, yet there are those who stand up and face the fury anyway.

An honest person does not allow circumstance to compromise integrity. Those who remain truthful regardless of the outcome are often viewed as our greatest leaders, recognized as hero’s and admired for their good work.

Take a look at American leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Abraham Lincoln (“Honest Abe”). These leaders adopted honesty as a way of life. While serving, they courageously remained consistent in their beliefs of integrity and righteousness. Even through many tough times, they never backed down or compromised their integrity to please others. There was simply no question about who these men were and what they stood for. Today we hold their legacy’s in high regard, many of us hoping to impact the lives of others just as they have impacted ours. I believe this is still possible; even in the today’s society. (See the Honest Model)

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Honesty requires a bravery only possessed by great leaders. Not everyone is up for the challenge, nor are they equipped with the wisdom, discernment and compassion it takes to deliver such a service.

Like dishonesty, honesty is a risk; however there is clear distinction between the two. While an honest person will take control of a situation; mentally preparing themselves for a reaction, be it good or bad, a dishonest person will leave a reaction to truth up to chance. Instead they choose to be unprepared to face the havoc likely forthcoming when they least expect it. Now I wouldn’t call that a guaranteed success strategy, would you?

Having experience and knowledge doesn’t make a great leader; these qualities make a great worker. A great leader is courageous; consistently displaying good character, morals and a genuine heart. Knowing the difference can make or break your legacy.

“If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” –Abraham Lincoln

Have you read part 1 and part 2? 

Why Honesty in Business Equals Success Part 1

Why Honesty in Business Equals Success Part 2

MDD-160Mary V. Davids is Principal Consultant at D&M Consulting Services, LLC., and creator of the Honest Model™. Mary has over a decade of experience in cultivating employee engagement, enhancing workplace performance, career coaching, leadership coaching and training & development. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management. Mary also serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the South Florida Chapter of the National Association of African American’s in Human Resources. To connect with Mary, you can follow her on twitter @MVDavids or you can email her at maryd@honestleadership.org

Why Honesty in Business Equals Success Part 2

What does honesty really mean?  Here’s the real truth.kid sneaky

Being honest is a learned behavior.

How it begins:

It’s a natural instinct to be untruthful. It starts when we are young, we make a mistake, break something, go against our parents’ rules and then we lie about it. We don’t want to be punished or end up losing our privileges so we learn how to get away with our wrongs by covering them up with lies. Eventually our subconscious mind ties honesty to penalty. In our adult years, we continue to carry on this behavior when we deal with our friends, family, colleagues, employers and customers. We tell people what they want to hear even though we know we should tell the truth. We disguise lies as “keeping the peace” or trying not to hurt someone’s feelings. We tend to conveniently blur the lines between being positive and being dishonest.

The older we get we have more at risk; such as security stability, social status and livelihood. These are the things we fight to protect. The greater the loss, the greater the lie; we begin to convince ourselves one cover up after the next is a justifiable sacrifice to remain comfortable. Eventually lying becomes an excusable behavior; after all we are only protecting that which we consider valuable right? To guard our future, we make this “sacrifice” as a resolve to error, failing to realize dishonesty is actually a hindrance from progression. It is a temporary fix and when carried on it multiplies, eventually interfering with our would-be promising futures.

A lie will eventually catch up with the initiator.

You see, once a liar feels like they are getting away with such behavior, it becomes a game or often second-nature, so much so that they forget about the repercussions and begin to feel comfortable with the risk of being caught. In business, no such risk is a smart decision. Even if a business is flourishing now, built on a foundation of lies it will eventually come crumbling down. Look at companies like Enron, or deceivers like Madoff. The bigger you are, the harder you fall. The more money you make, the greater risk there is. Keep it honest and you’ll never have to look over your shoulder worrying about when you’ll get caught.

Just as we develop a behavior to be dishonest, we can also develop a behavior to be honest.

We can learn to be honest just as we learn anything else, through practice. The key is to challenge ourselves to become more and more honest in our reactions to others and really think about our responses before we open our mouths. Granted, this is much easier said than done, but it is something we can work towards each day. Eventually, it will become a way of life and you’ll find being honest is much more rewarding long term vs. the temporary satisfaction dishonesty provides.

Have you read part 1? 

Why Honesty in Business Equals Success Part 1

MDD-160Mary V. Davids is Principal Consultant at D&M Consulting Services, LLC., and creator of the Honest Model™. Mary has over a decade of experience in cultivating employee engagement, enhancing workplace performance, career coaching, leadership coaching and training & development. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management. Mary also serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the South Florida Chapter of the National Association of African American’s in Human Resources. To connect with Mary, you can follow her on twitter @MVDavids or you can email her at maryd@honestleadership.org

Why Honesty in Business Equals Success Part 1

20140613-073111-27071474.jpg

Most people work under the assumption that doing business requires one to be “cut throat”, harsh or selfish. When we think of business, we don’t think of nice people doing great things. We think of competition, getting more customers, more profits and more growth; being honest just doesn’t fit into the category. Often honesty is considered a weakness or vulnerability in business. I once heard someone say the key to being a good business man: “never admit to anything”. Now what kind of way is that to do business?

I’ve learned the best way to diffuse a conflict is to apologize for the error; even if it wasn’t your fault directly. It’s simply not possible to remedy a problem if you fail to acknowledge it exists! Apologizing is not admitting you did anything wrong. Apologizing is saying you value your relationship with the customer more than your ego. Believe it or not, most people are actually open to forgiving if you simply acknowledge making a mistake, ask for their forgiveness and try to mend the fault.

Imagine how much time and money we would save if we just apologized for an error? Instead, most business people take it personal; as though a mistake is a personal defeat rather viewing a mistake as an opportunity to turn weaknesses into strengths. Honesty builds trust which creates a loyal relationship between you and your customer. Returning customers and client referrals are what keep a business afloat. In the midst of managing conflict, remember this: You are not just securing a relationship with one person, you are securing a relationship with them and the five other people they will potentially send your way depending on how you handle their problem.

Bottom line – people do business with those they can trust. If you can’t acknowledge your error, then consider the relationship broken. We can’t change the past, but what we can do is commit to being honest about it and move on.

“I don’t want you to be perfect, I want you to be honest.”Mary V. Davids

Mary V. DaviMDD-160ds is Principal Consultant at D&M Consulting Services, LLC., and creator of the Honest Model™. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management. Mary has over a decade of experience in cultivating employee engagement, enhancing employee motivation and workplace performance, leadership coaching and training & development. She also serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the South Florida Chapter of the National Association of African American’s in Human Resources. Book Mary to speak at your next event or hire Mary for leadership & professional development consultation today. Follow Mary on twitter @MVDavids

June Book Pick!

Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog for your chance to WIN a copy of this book! 

the-people-factor-VAN-MOODY-2This month we picked Van Moody’s The People Factor. Here’s what Van Moody helps the reader to discover:

  • How to have healthy relationships
    with unhealthy people
  • How to positively engage at work and
    advance your career
  • How to identify and thrive in a “toxic”
    relationship
  • How to know when helping someone
    is actually hurting you
  • How to set compassionate
    relationship boundaries
  • How to end relationships in a healthy
    and respectful way

“To build and maintain deep, substantive relationships, people must know themselves, be honest about themselves, and share their true selves with others.” – Van Moody

Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog for your chance to win an electronic copy of this book for your Kindle device!

**If you have a book you would like to recommend for next month, send an email to info@dm-professional.com for consideration. 

Mary V. DaviMDD-160ds is Principal Consultant at D&M Consulting Services, LLC. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management. Mary has over a decade of experience in cultivating employee engagement, enhancing employee motivation and workplace performance, leadership coaching and training & development. She also serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the South Florida Chapter of the National Association of African American’s in Human Resources. Book Mary to speak at your next event or hire Mary for leadership & professional development consultation today. Follow Mary on twitter @MVDavids.

Love – Lift – Lead

As featured in Realizing Leadership Magazine. Find it hereLOVE LIFT LEADA grand mistake often made in business is separating leadership from love. Ah yes, the great divide of emotion from the workplace. Here’s the real deal: True leadership starts from a loving place with roots grounded in lifting others up when they fall and showing them the way to greater journeys ahead. Without possessing a genuine love and desire to help others succeed, there is no true leadership. Instead there is aimless guidance disguised as leadership in hopes to gain blind followers; sometimes referred to as “management”.
Leadership is a three-step process. It starts with a genuine love; secondly a desire to help others grow; and lastly establishing and maintaining an influential relationship with others.
So how can one achieve this ultimate leadership experience? It starts with who you are and what you desire to accomplish. Leading without love is selfish and having a self-fulfilling goal is the opposite of a good leader.
Leadership requires genuine love
Often employees are held to unreasonable expectations to perform without having the proper resources available to do so. Although we may not call it “love” in the workplace, a good leaders’ actions mirror what’s in their heart. Love is shown through what you offer an employee. Being considerate of child-care needs; health benefits, making healthy foods available, encouraging exercising or offering flexible work arrangements; these are gestures of love in leadership. Giving employees the resources and tools to be the best performers are how we show our employees we genuinely care about their success.
Desire to help others grow
Intentions often get lost during delivery. While it may appear people want the best for others and have a desire to see them grow; often they end up indirectly (or directly) preventing them from doing so. Managers require timely production and adherence to deadlines – leaders focus on the developmental steps necessary to reach the goal. Cracking the whip is not an example of good leadership. Yes, accountability is a necessary role in progression, but it should not mean damaging the spirit of others in the process. Good leaders encourage employee input, making them feel valued and appreciated. This acceptance helps employees to become more engaged, therefore more productive and knowledgeable.
Establishing an influential connection
When you’ve developed trust with your employees, they begin to value your relationship and trust your judgment. They become loyal and committed to the vision of the organization. This connection creates an influential bond, making it easier to implement change and take on new opportunities. Be transparent, yet kind in your approach when speaking with employees. Pour back into them in areas where they need improvement. Be a support, an encouragement and a reality-check when needed. Not only must we create a welcoming environment, we must display empathy and give undivided attention to those who need it most. Good leaders strive to lift others up, not tear them down. Having influential relationships with employees allows leaders to focus on the future without facing resistance from employees.
Not everyone having a leadership position, is meant to lead. Leadership is much more than skill and knowledge. It requires integrity, honesty, willingness to do good unto others and having an expectation of others to do the same.

MDD-160

Mary V. Davids is Principal Consultant at D&M Consulting Services, LLC. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management. Mary has over a decade of experience in cultivating employee engagement, enhancing employee motivation and workplace performance, leadership coaching and training & development. She also serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the South Florida Chapter of the National Association of African American’s in Human Resources. Book Mary to speak at your next event or hire Mary for leadership & professional development consultation today. Follow Mary on twitter @MVDavids.