Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Don’t solve problems if you want to be a great manager by Claire Lew

What makes a great manager isn’t the problems they solve, but the questions they ask. Start with these 16 questions here.




An employee comes to you and says, “I have a problem.” If you’re trying to be a great manager, what do you do?
Your initial instinct might be to roll up your sleeves. “Time to be the boss,” you think to yourself. You’re ready to step in, solve the problem and save the day.
Or something like that. You just want to be helpful.
In reality, your instinct is the opposite of helpful. Startlingly, when you jump in to solve a problem as a manager, it’s one of the biggest leadership mistakes you can make.
I was reminded of this counterintuitive concept when chatting with Wade Foster, CEO of Zapier, on our Heartbeat podcast. Though his company today is thriving with over 200 employees and over 2 million users, Wade admitted how he struggled in the early days as a CEO when an employee would come to him with a problem:
“When you [jump in and try to solve the problem yourself] you’re actually mistaking your roles. You’ve hired this person to solve problems. And if they’re unable to solve the problem, you’ve probably hired the wrong person.”
In other words, your role as a manager is not to solve problems. It’s to help others solve problems, themselves. Leadership is stewardship. It’s navigating your team through treacherous waters, around jagged rocks, to the desired destination,
and making sure folks feel nourished and rested along the way. But you can’t be a good steward if you’re scampering around trying to paddle all the oars faster, yourself. To take the boat analogy one step further, a great manager is a coxswain, not a rower.

This confusion of roles leads to a highly undesired outcome: You prevent your team from learning how to solve the problem. A dangerous reliance develops that hinges on your expertise, your “final word.” Your team never gets to fuss, flail, and figure out how to crack a nut with their own hands. When you’re the one thinking through all the problems, you’re teaching your team members to not think for themselves.
You also inadvertently slow your team down. Every problem – especially the “hard ones” – are re-routed to you. So what happens if you’re out of the office that week? Or, what if your plate is full? Well, that problem will just have to wait. And wait it does. You become a bottleneck, the inhibitor of your team. You funnel your team into single mode of dependency that’s difficult to undo.
The best leaders know this, and are keen to avoid this pitfall – so they do something else. They become the team’s accelerator. They help team members think for themselves.
How? By asking questions. Wade of Zapier adopted this practice as a CEO, describing it as a “more Socratic way” to helping his team solve problems. Ultimately, it leads to better results.
Ask questions and a team member can come to the answer themselves. Ask questions and the problem they’re facing becomes more lucid, less daunting. Ask questions and your team member might even come up with a better answer than you would have.
To be a great manager, here are 16 questions you can start with instead of jumping in to solve the problem yourself:
  • What do you see as the underlying root cause of the problem?
  • What are the options, potential solutions, and courses of action you’re considering?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages to each course of action?
  • How would you define success in this scenario?
  • How do you know you will have been successful?
  • What would the worst possible case outcome be?
  • What’s the most likely outcome?
  • Which part of the issue or scenario seems most uncertain, befuddling, and difficult to predict?
  • What have you already tried?
  • What is your initial inclination for the path you should take?
  • Is there another solution that isn’t immediately apparent?
  • What’s at stake here, in this decision?
  • Is there an easier way to do what you suggested?
  • What would happen if you didn’t do anything at all?
  • Is this an either/or choice, or is there something you’re missing?
  • Is there anything you might be explaining away too quickly?
What you’ll notice when you ask these questions is that most employees already have an answer (or several answers!) to a given problem. But they were uncomfortable with it, or they were worried about getting it “wrong.”
Part of asking the questions isn’t just to help them think through the problem more clearly, but also to help them realize they know more than they think, they’re more capable than they think, and that they’ve mitigated the risks better than anticipated.
Your job as a leader isn’t to just help clarify thought process – but to give confidence in their thinking.
As Wade says, “You’re trying to just help them get to that realization that, ‘You know what to do.'”
After all, a great manager is centered on building the capabilities of their team, not their own capabilities
Don’t solve the problem, yourself.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Lessons in Leadership From The London Bridge Attack by Alex Afriyie


It was a tragic situation yesterday as we saw another attack in London that ended with the death and injury of innocent people as well as the apprehension and death of the assailant. However, incredible bravery and courage was displayed by members of the public, as well as the security forces.

There are at least three lessons in leadership that we can learn from this incident:

1) People Acted Quickly To Stop The Attack - When dealing with any negative as leaders we need to take swift action to change things. Gruenter and Whitaker said,

The Culture of any organisation is shaped by the worst behaviour the leader is willing to tolerate

2) People Acted With Courage - It takes courage to act when something needs to be confronted as a leader. These guys acted swiftly yesterday and stopped the attack being any worse than it was. Imagine how many more people could have died without their speedy intervention.

Courage doesn't mean you don't get afraid. Courage means you don't let fear stop you

3) People Acted Together - Teamwork and collaboration are the way that high performing teams work. Three men chased down the assailant who had two knives, while they were armed only with a fire extinguisher and whale tusk. By working together they were able to stop the attack. It was a great risk to their lives, but I'm sure the fact that they were working together gave them courage to continue.

As leaders or people that want to be successful in life and stop attacks or negatives of any kind, I believe we can learn from the behaviour of the public and police on London Bridge yesterday. 
Act quickly
Act with courage and 
Act together.

Alex Afriyie


Monday, 2 September 2019

4 questions to ask an underperforming employee during a one-on-one meeting by Claire Lew

When an employee is struggling, here’s what the best managers do.

Claire Lew

Someone’s slipping. You see it. You feel it. You’re not on the same page. You desperately want to pull the person up, but you’re not sure exactly how. Do you encourage them? Switch them off the project? Change how you’re leading them?
You’re now facing one of the toughest tasks as a leader: How do you manage underperformance at work? And more specifically, how do you sit down and talk about their underperformance with them, during a one-on-one meeting with her or him?
It’s tempting to look outward first. To blame the person herself or extenuating circumstances. “They don’t pay attention to detail.” Or, “The client is being unreasonable with them.”
While those may very well be the case, you should also turn inward. As leaders, when an employee is underperforming, we must self-reflect. What are you doing that is stopping this person from doing their best work?
The hard part about managing an underperforming employee is choosing to look both inward and outward for the sources of underperformance at work: What are you doing to hold an underperforming employee back? And what is the underperforming employee doing to hold herself back?
Oftentimes, we think we know the answer to those questions. We have hunches about what’s causing the underperformance: “It’s their perfectionist tendency getting in the way, obviously…” or “It’s my lack of context I shared about the project, clearly…”
So, we just create a performance improvement plan based on those hunches, and move forward.
That path is instinctual — but that path is flawed. Assuming what’s wrong doesn’t help you get any closer to finding out what actually is wrong. While your hunches may end up being spot-on, in my experience, I discover the truth of what’s really holding an employee back when I ask, not when I assume. Coaching a struggling employee to success begins with asking the right questions, not simply arriving with the supposed answers.
Given this, when you sit down in a one-on-one with an underperforming employee, what should you ask? What questions will help you look both inward and outward to get to the underlying source of underperformance?
Here are 14 questions to try. They are by no means the only questions you ask during a one-on-one (here are other ones to consider). But, they provide a good starting place to delve into how to better manage an underperforming employee.

Ask these questions to look inward.

You’re trying to figure out: “How have I been letting this person down? How have I been getting in the way?”
  • Is it clear what needs to get done? How can I make the goals or expectations clearer?
  • Is the level of quality that’s required for this work clear? What examples or details can I provide to clarify the level of quality that’s needed?
  • Am I being respectful of the amount of time you have to accomplish something? Can I be doing a better job of protecting your time?
  • Do you feel you’re being set up to fail in any way? Are my expectations realistic? What am I asking that we should adjust so it’s more reasonable?
  • Do you have the tools and resources to do your job well?
  • Have I given you enough context about why this work is important, who the work is for, or any other information that is crucial to do your job well?
  • What’s irked you or rubbed you the wrong way about my management style? Does my tone come off the wrong way? Do I follow-up too frequently with you, not giving you space to breathe?

Ask these questions to look outward.

You’re trying to figure out: “What on the employee’s end is limiting them? What choices or capabilities of their own are keeping them from the results you want to see?”
  • How have you been feeling about your own performance lately? Where do you see opportunities to improve, if any?
  • What are you most enjoying about the work you’re doing? What part of the work is inspiring, motivating, and energizing, if any?
  • What part of the work do you feel stuck? What have you been trying the “crack the nut” on, but it feels like you’re banging your head?
  • What part of the work is “meh”? What tasks have you feeling bored or ambivalent about?
  • When’s the last time you got to talk to or connect with a customer who benefited from the work you did? Would you like more opportunities to do that, and should make that happen?
  • Do you feel you’re playing to your strengths in your role? Where do you feel like there is a steep learning curve for you?
  • Would you say you’re feeling optimistic, pessimistic or somewhere in the middle about the company’s future?
You’ll notice that none of these questions ask, “What do you think you’re doing wrong?” or “What do you think I’m doing wrong?” The point of these questions is not to end up in an accusatory place, either way. Your goal is to reach a place of better understanding.
By approaching the conversation with an underperforming employee with questions to ask, rather than answers or directives to insert, you create space for that employee to want to do something different. To actually change and improve.
That change, that improvement, is the goal, after all.

Friday, 15 February 2019

8 Things Successful People Never Waste Time Doing by Cynthia Bazin

As a mentor, people often come to me when they are overwhelmed, stressed and feeling like they’re not accomplishing their goals, the things they most want to do in life. They feel stuck. They are at a point which they don’t know what to do.

So one of the first things do first is identify their time-wasters, the things that are getting in the way of them being successful, keeping them from moving forward, toward what they want to accomplish.

I think we all, from time to time, get ourselves involved in activities that do not contribute to our greatest success or happiness. I definitely did at one time, but I made the necessary changes once I became an entrepreneur and learned how valuable each second of the day was—that there really wasn’t any time to waste on activities that didn’t grow me or my business.
We’re all looking to be successful in life, but sometimes we are wasting our time doing things that are holding us back from reaching our full potential. And, often, we don’t recognize those things until someone points them out.
It’s important to analyze how we spend our days, hour by hour, and regularly look for ways to work smarter, ways to eliminate time-wasters. So, to get started, here are eight things that productive, successful people never waste their time doing (and you shouldn’t either):

1. Productive, successful people don’t get sucked into social media.

Being on social media—checking notifications Facebook, scrolling through pictures on Instagram, reading quick updates on Twitter, whatever—it’s part of everyday life. But if you don’t control how much time you spend on it, the hours will fly by and you won’t have accomplished anything on your to-do list.
So either put a time limit on it—set an alarm for when you need to minimize it, close the app, do something else—or only get on after completing necessary work projects. Use social media as a reward.

2. Productive, successful people don’t go through the day without a plan.

Successful people have a purpose, a laser-focused plan of things they want to achieve on a particular day. I believe in writing things down—but only the top two or three priorities I need to accomplish that day, not a long list of things.
Write down your top priorities and break down those large tasks into more reasonable steps and you’ll see yourself wanting to get them done and crossed off the list.

3. Productive, successful people don’t do emotionally draining activities.

If you want to step into a truly successful life, you have to focus on things that positively fuel your life. Productive people don’t waste their time on things that emotionally drain them.
Before committing to activities on your schedule, be sure the activity will positively add to your life. If you believe it won’t, then think about saying no to it. Also, don’t feel obligated to give an answer right at the time you’re being asked to do something. Think before you say yes and know that it’s OK to say no to requests for your time.

4. Productive, successful people don’t worry about things they can’t control.

Successful people realize that worrying gets you absolutely nowhere in life, especially if you can’t do anything about a situation.
So turn your thoughts to action-based activities. Focus on things you can get done.

5. Productive, successful people don’t hang out with negative people.

It’s said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So if you want to be your best, you have to surround yourself with the best people.
Be sure to eliminate negative, toxic energy around you. If you want to soar in life, you need to unload what is weighing you down.

6. Productive, successful people don’t dwell on past mistakes.

Successful people make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. The key to being successful in life is not making the same mistake twice, learning and growing from mistakes, and becoming a better person because of them.
So when you make a mistake, get into a mindset that the mistake is done with and you can’t go back to the past. Focus on what you learned and design a strategy to positively move forward from it.

7. Productive, successful people don’t focus on what other people are doing.

It’s great to be inspired by what other successful people are doing, but when you’re constantly comparing yourself to the next person and it’s bringing you down, it’s time to shift your mindset.
Be inspired by others, but focus your mindset to only compete with the most important person: yourself.

8. Productive, successful people don’t put themselves last in priority.

We all go through times that we don’t get enough sleep or exercise because we need to work on a big project. But for long-term success and happiness, you must put yourself first on the priority list.
Some great ways to do this is to kick start your day by doing something you love to do—maybe it’s completing a great workout, meditating, journaling or reading your favorite book. Do what works for you. Because when you start off your day doing something you love and that is good for you, you’ll feel happy, focused and strong the rest of the day.
Are there things on this list that have been time-wasters for you? Eliminate them so you can step into your best life.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

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Tuesday, 1 January 2019

10 Toxic People You Should Avoid by Travis Bradbury

Toxic people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing people’s buttons.
As important as it is to learn how to deal with different kinds of people, truly toxic people will never be worth your time and energy—and they take a lot of each. Toxic people create unnecessary complexity, strife and, worst of all, stress.

“People inspire you, or they drain you—pick them wisely.” – Hans F. Hansen


Recent research from Friedrich Schiller University in Germany shows just how serious toxic people are. They found that exposure to stimuli that cause strong negative emotions—the same kind of exposure you get when dealing with toxic people—caused subjects’ brains to have a massive stress response. Whether it’s negativity, cruelty, the victim syndrome or just plain craziness, toxic people drive your brain into a stressed-out state that should be avoided at all costs.
Studies have long shown that stress can have a lasting, negative impact on the brain. Exposure to even a few days of stress compromises the effectiveness of neurons in the hippocampus, an important brain area responsible for reasoning and memory. Weeks of stress cause reversible damage to brain cells, and months of stress can permanently destroy them. Toxic people don’t just make you miserable—they’re really hard on your brain.
The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90 percent of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. One of their greatest gifts is the ability to identify toxic people and keep them at bay.
It’s often said that you’re the product of the five people you spend the most time with. If you allow even one of those five people to be toxic, you’ll soon find out how capable he or she is of holding you back.
You can’t hope to distance yourself from toxic people until you first know who they are. The trick is to separate those who are annoying or simply difficult from those who are truly toxic. What follows are 10 types of toxic drainers that you should stay away from at all costs so that you don’t become one yourself.

1. The Gossip


“Great minds discuss ideas, average ones discuss events, and small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt


Gossipers derive pleasure from other people’s misfortunes. It might be fun to peer into somebody else’s personal or professional faux pas at first, but over time, it gets tiring, makes you feel gross and hurts other people. There are too many positives out there and too much to learn from interesting people to waste your time talking about the misfortune of others.

2. The Temperamental

Some people have absolutely no control over their emotions. They will lash out at you and project their feelings onto you, all the while thinking that you’re the one causing their malaise. Temperamental people are tough to dump from your life because their lack of control over their emotions makes you feel bad for them. When push comes to shove though, temperamental people will use you as their emotional toilet and should be avoided at all costs.

3. The Victim

Victims are tough to identify because you initially empathize with their problems. But as time passes, you begin to realize that their “time of need” is all the time. Victims actively push away any personal responsibility by making every speed bump they encounter into an uncrossable mountain. They don’t see tough times as opportunities to learn and grow from; instead, they see them as an out. There’s an old saying: “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” It perfectly captures the toxicity of the victim, who chooses to suffer every time.

4. The Self-Absorbed

Self-absorbed people bring you down through the impassionate distance they maintain from other people. You can usually tell when you’re hanging around self-absorbed people because you start to feel completely alone. This happens because as far as they’re concerned, there’s no point in having a real connection between them and anyone else. You’re merely a tool used to build their self-esteem.

5. The Envious

To envious people, the grass is always greener somewhere else. Even when something great happens to envious people, they don’t derive any satisfaction from it. This is because they measure their fortune against the world’s, when they should be deriving their satisfaction from within. And let’s face it, there’s always someone out there who’s doing better if you look hard enough. Spending too much time around envious people is dangerous because they teach you to trivialize your own accomplishments.

6. The Manipulator

Manipulators suck time and energy out of your life under the fa├žade of friendship. They can be tricky to deal with because they treat you like a friend. They know what you like, what makes you happy and what you think is funny, but the difference is that they use this information as part of a hidden agenda. Manipulators always want something from you, and if you look back on your relationships with them, it’s all take, take, take with little or no giving. They’ll do anything to win you over just so they can work you over.

7. The Dementor

In J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Dementors are evil creatures that suck people’s souls out of their bodies, leaving them merely as shells of humans. Whenever a Dementor enters the room, it goes dark, people get cold, and they begin to recall their worst memories. Rowling said that she developed the concept for Dementors based on highly negative people—the kind of people who have the ability to walk into a room and instantly suck the life out of it.
Dementors suck the life out of the room by imposing their negativity and pessimism upon everyone they encounter. Their viewpoints are always glass half empty, and they can inject fear and concern into even the most benign situations. A Notre Dame University study found that students assigned to roommates who thought negatively were far more likely to develop negative thinking and even depression themselves.

8. The Twisted

There are certain toxic people who have bad intentions, deriving deep satisfaction from the pain and misery of others. They are either out to hurt you, to make you feel bad or to get something from you; otherwise, they have no interest in you. The only good thing about this type is that you can spot their intentions quickly, which makes it that much faster to get them out of your life.

9. The Judgmental

Judgmental people are quick to tell you exactly what is and isn’t cool. They have a way of taking the thing you’re most passionate about and making you feel terrible about it. Instead of appreciating and learning from people who are different from them, judgmental people look down on others. Judgmental people stifle your desire to be a passionate, expressive person, so you’re best off cutting them out and being yourself.

10. The Arrogant

Arrogant people are a waste of your time because they see everything you do as a personal challenge. Arrogance is false confidence, and it always masks major insecurities. A University of Akron study found that arrogance is correlated with a slew of problems in the workplace. Arrogant people tend to be lower performers, more disagreeable and have more cognitive problems than the average person.

How to Protect Yourself Once You Spot ‘Em

Toxic people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. Make no mistake about it—their behavior truly goes against reason, so why do you allow yourself to respond to them emotionally and get sucked into the mix?
The more irrational and off base someone is, the easier it should be for you to remove yourself from their traps. Quit trying to beat them at their own game. Distance yourself from them emotionally, and approach your interactions with them like they’re a science project (or you’re their shrink if you prefer that analogy). You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos—only the facts.
Maintaining an emotional distance requires awareness. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in situations where you’ll need to regroup and choose the best way forward. This is fine, and you shouldn’t be afraid to buy yourself some time to do so.
Most people feel as though because they work or live with someone, they have no way to control the chaos. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you’ve identified a toxic person, you’ll begin to find their behavior more predictable and easier to understand. This will equip you to think rationally about when and where you have to put up with them and when and where you don’t.
You can establish boundaries, but you’ll have to do so consciously and proactively. If you let things happen naturally, you’re bound to find yourself constantly embroiled in difficult conversations. If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos. The only trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to cross them, which they will.

DOMINATE 2019 - New Year Motivational Video



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