Friday, March 16, 2018

Can Anyone Lead?

By Kathy Holdaway

What does leadership look like when you are not the one in charge? How does your way of being, create a collaborative environment? How do you show up every day?

Leadership starts with who you are on the inside. Being who you are, is the greatest gift we could ever receive from you. I wonder what practices keep you in tune with who you are, so that wherever you go, there you are. The bright shining light that stands in strengths, is a beacon to others. Be the person who demonstrates the best qualities with everyone at every moment. This place it is what people are magnetized by. Something about you stands out, as a result.

Because you are being genuine, and offering the best version of yourself, the person on the receiving end feels your contribution. They want to go where you are going, and become who you are being.

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”— Confucius

I think this is important especially in today’s leader environment! When I talk about practices, I am referring to what keeps you in the arena of integrity. It could be a practice of mindfulness that comes from inner awareness and being attuned to yourself, your environment, and the people around you.  It could be meditation, being at one with nature, or connection to the place within that keeps you calm. You get to choose what works best for you! 

Leaders practice effective listening skills. They are not thinking of the next thing to say; they are present in the conversation listening on multiple levels.  Leaders are committed to their personal and professional development, and are generally life-long learners. They know they can always learn from others no matter their station, position, culture or environment. The best leaders create space for you to grow into your greatness, and stretch your capabilities and capacities.

“Since in order to speak, one must first listen, learn to speak by listening.”— Rumi

Today, leadership is moving toward a more conscientious model, where every stakeholder is considered. This includes those internal and external. Today's leader has a broader outlook on people.  Consider how you might begin to ignite that in your workplace. Some of the qualities of a more conscious leader are compassion, empathy, integrity, transparency, gratitude and commitment to values. Exceptional leaders allow each person to be who they are, while inviting them to grow into their strengths.

And for my contributing quote, I challenge you to “Lead yourself and others to greatness, by simply being yourself”. If someone practices this, would you consider them a leader? 

Kathy Holdaway is a Transformational Coach and Consultant for Leader Development, Leader Transition and business growth with leaders, emerging leaders and founders who desire to lead by being who they are in their authentic power delivering with impact and sustainability. 

Her experience includes: 10+ years successfully coached over 100+ national and international coaching clients to include business owners, and mid-level executives in effectively removing barriers to their success focusing on mindset, leadership skills and strategic engagement. Previously in her corporate career of 19 years, she facilitated the growth of sales team, led them to be winning teams, and promoting many to  management roles.

Connect: Twitter | LinkedIn 

Friday Funny

Thursday, March 15, 2018

How to Develop a Leadership Pipeline in the Contact Center

This article first appeared on ICMI

Are leaders born or made? This question has been up for debate for quite some time. Regardless of whether leaders are born, or made, leadership development is critical. I have had the benefit of working with outstanding leaders who have guided and nurtured me throughout my career. Their influence suggests that whether a leader is born or made, mentoring is essential.

It has been said that the mark of a great leader, is one who creates more leaders. This only happens through mentoring, coaching, transparency, and trust. However, it starts with understanding that you don’t have all the answers. Real leadership is inclusive and does not place one’s self above the team. After all, what good is a leader, if they have no team to lead?

When you can elevate others, and let them stand in the spotlight without seeking accolades and credit, you have begun to understand the real power of leadership. Effective leaders realize they are, to some extent, a servant of those who follow them.  Leaders who serve lead successful teams! Servant leaders make the professional well-being of his/her staff their top priority.  Sadly, many wait for an official leadership title to adopt this mindset, and there are two reasons why this is not ideal:

  1. Leadership is not merely a position! Leaders are not defined by the organizational chart. Individual contributors and team members alike may possess and display the skills to become great leaders. Don’t overlook employees based on where they are in the hierarchy. Instead, identify where they can go, and how they can help you and the organization improve.
  2. Development should not occur once a leader assumes their role. To create success, you must create the conditions that are prime for success. Leadership requires on the job training for sure, but development in advance of a promotion helps maximize the potential for a favorable outcome.
One of my favorite quotes about effective leadership comes from Theodore Roosevelt. He said, “In any moment of decisions, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” For any new leader, getting it right is a daunting task. Without sufficient training, it is easy to make incorrect decisions, or even worse, do nothing at all.

During my time of military service, to progress in rank, you had to meet defined objectives before advancing. Therefore, you had all the hands-on experience you needed to make the next step in your career. You'd already succeeded in your new role before it was officially yours. This model created a robust pipeline of new leaders at the ready.
I have applied this same train of thought to my time in the contact center. When developing leadership pipelines, I focus on the following:
  • Set the tone: Leaders set the example for others to follow. It is imperative that you exhibit the behaviors you expect to see in your team. In doing so, you help create and maintain the culture and work environment you want to establish.
  • Create stakeholders: Any decision that impacts your team makes them stakeholders. As such, they need to be a part of the process.  Allow them to give constructive feedback and input. In doing so, you teach your employees how to communicate more effectively with one another, and how to gather all the relevant information they need to make good decisions. You also demonstrate that you value their input and expect them to take ownership of their role.
  • Utilize their other strengths: Allowing your employees to participate in projects outside the scope of their regular role is a great way to develop leaders. Not only will they put their talents and passions to use, but they will learn how to negotiate, collaborate, work on a deadline and contribute to the broader success of the organization.
  • Get out of the way: The best way to utilize your team is to give clear direction and guidance, and then let them do their job. Empower team members to make decisions and seek better alternatives to current processes and procedures. Encouraging them to find opportunities for improvement helps to develop and enhance critical thinking, decision making, and problem-solving skills.
  • Accountability: Being the leader does not mean you get to do what you want! Okay, maybe I should rephrase that. Just because you are the leader, doesn’t mean you should do whatever you want. Blame ultimately belongs to leadership, and praise should spread across to the team.
While the advice I've shared doesn't guarantee a successful leadership development program, it is an excellent place to start. I think of my contact center leadership pipeline program as an apprenticeship. Each member of the team is always learning and growing and the developing the skills they might need at the next level. Creating opportunities to develop staff for leadership is not only good for your employees and your business, but it is also your most important responsibility as a leader.  Harvey Firestone said it best; “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”

Does your team have a leadership pipeline? Share your best practices in the comments

Customer Service Quote of The Day

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

"Follow the Leader", Featuring Leslie O'Flahavan

How can tone, in written form, affect customer experience?

The tone you use in your writing to customers—whether in email, live chat, social media, or text—can make or break the customer experience. If your company’s marketing brand voice is fun and friendly, but your customer service voice is scoldy, scripted, or legalistic, you’ll be giving customers a bad, or at least a confusing, customer experience. Written customer service responses should use the same tone with customers after they buy (customer service) as your company did before they buy (marketing).

Don’t get lazy and convince yourself that the substance of your customer service responses matters more than your tone. What you say is important, but how you say it matters just as much. So when a customer emails you about a problem with your product or tweets you to ask you to waive a fee, remember that your tone matters. Use a friendly, connected, personal tone because that’s the way to address people you care about and want to help. Use a tone that helps you build a relationship with your customers and you’ll give them the experience they hoped they’d have.

I am an author, an online writing expert, and a sought-after speaker. I help customer service organizations improve the quality of the email, chat, and social media messages their frontline staff write to customers.

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