Random Acts of Recognition – Motivating your Team Regularly

Good job3

 

At a company I once worked for, I once received a card in the mail, handwritten by the president, stating something like “In our leadership meetings, I have heard many times the great work you are doing for the team.” There was a token gift along with the card as well. But to me, the card meant more than any jackpot I had won – it boosted my confidence, morale, and motivation, made me happy, and more than anything – made me realize that the work I was putting in, was meaningful.

One of the least recognized ways to motivate people is.. recognizing them on a timely basis! Not via formally established processes or competitively, not at the end of the quarter or year, but truly for what they have done at any given point. Not a measure, but simply a recognition.

To give a runner’s analogy – think of recognition as water as you run a long distance – you need it on a regular interval to keep going, and not simply at the end. More importantly, every runner needs water to keep going, not just the ones who are ahead. Of course, you will award the winner the prize, but you need water for everyone to keep running.

In keeping the recognition random, without much tangible benefits, and with no formality, you are not asking for a change in performance, but truly rewarding the person for the work done. Also, given the randomness, it doesn’t encourage others to alter their performance just to win the award.

Most importantly, it costs almost nothing, and yet the benefits and impacts to the individual, team, and the company are numerous – almost too many to list.

Here are some tips to institute random acts of recognition in your workplace:

  • Have a generic name for the award or no name at all. Let it reflect the work for which the person is being recognized and not some “Hero of the week.”
  • Don’t create a process around it – like taking votes, or having people suggest on a weekly basis. Instead, keep a open-door policy on people to suggest. No specific timelines – and as the name suggests, keep it random.
  • Don’t set a criteria – it should be random that people don’t gear up to be competitive to win the next round of recognition. It can be for someone who brought in a huge deal, or someone who helped out in mailing holiday envelops. Remember, this is recognition, and not an award. By doing this, you also send a message that little things, and not just big things, matter to the company.
  • Base it on inputs from the teams – If you are the manager, you can choose whom to recognize based on what you see and hear from teams. There is nothing more rewarding than hearing that your team values you.
  • Keep it simple and genuine – and if there is a token prize, keep it the same for any level of recognition. And, the token prize should be just that, a token. So, cookies – yes, golf clubs – no. And even a simple “good job!” would do.
  • Hand-write your note – the art of writing notes is fast disappearing. By writing a small note of recognition, you communicate to the employees that you do value their contribution, by taking time to write.
  • Make it public – even if you send a note, follow-up in an email to employees on who were recognized. Acknowledge it as if it were a formal award. And, if physical proximity allows, also follow-up in person or even a quick phone call.
  • Let it come from the leadership. Doing so, makes it feel contribution being recognized at higher levels.
  • Don’t make it feel competitive. The fundamental idea is to recognize people for things they do, and not compare people for the often different types of work they do. Have multiple “winners” if you’d like.
  • Keep it random, which means no schedules, no formality, no set number of winners, and so on. Have it regularly, but randomly. – Manohar Kamath
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6 Toxic Behaviors That Push People Away: How To Recognize Them In Yourself and Change Them

Toxic behavior

 

 

In my line of work, I hear from hundreds of people a month, and connect with professionals in a more public, open way than ever before. Through this experience, I’ve seen scores of toxic behaviors that push people away (including me). And I’ve witnessed the damage these behaviors cause – to relationships, professional success, and to the well-being of both the individual behaving negatively, and to everyone around him or her.

Let’s be real – we’ve all acted in toxic, damaging ways at one time or another (none of us are immune to it), but many people are more evolved, balanced, and aware, and it happens only rarely in their lives.

Whether your toxic behavior is a common occurrence, or once in a blue moon, it’s critical for your happiness and success that you are able to recognize when you’re behaving badly, and shift it when it emerges.

The 6 most toxic behaviors I see every day are:

Taking everything personally

In the powerful little book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz talks about the importance of taking nothing personally. I teach this in my coaching programs and my book Breakdown, Breakthrough as well, and there is so much pushback. “Really, Kathy – don’t take anythingpersonally?”

People are toxic to be around when they believe that everything that happens in life is a direct assault on them or is in some way all about them. The reality is that what people say and do to you is much more about them, than you. People’s reactions to you are about their filters, and their perspectives, wounds and experiences. Whether people think you’re amazing, or believe you’re the worst, again, it’s more about them. I’m not saying we should be narcissists and ignore all feedback. I am saying that so much hurt, disappointment and sadness in our lives comes from our taking things personally when it’s far more productive and healthy to let go of others’ good or bad opinion of you, and to operate with your own heart, intuition and wisdom as your guide. So yes – don’t take anything personally.

Obsessing about negative thoughts

It’s very hard to be around people who can’t or won’t let go of negativity – when they dwell on and speak incessantly about the terrible things that could happen and have happened, the slights they’ve suffered, and the unfairness of life. These people stubbornly refuse to see the positive side of life and the positive lessons from what’s transpiring. Pessimism is one thing – but remaining perpetually locked in negative thoughts is another. Only seeing the negative, and operating from a view that everything is negative and against you, is a skewed way of thinking and living, and you can change that.

Treating yourself like a victim

Another toxic behavior is non-stop complaining that fuels your sense of victimization. Believing you’re a victim, that you have no power to exert and no influence on the direction of your life, is a toxic stance that keeps you stuck and small. Working as a therapist with people who’ve suffered terrible trauma in their lives but found the courage to turn it all around, I know that we have access to far more power, authority, and influence over our lives than we initially believe. When you stop whining, and refuse to see yourself as a hapless victim of fate, chance or discrimination, then you’ll find that you are more powerful than you realized, but only if you choose to accept that reality.

Cruelty – lacking in empathy or putting yourself in others shoes

One of the most toxic and damaging behaviors – cruelty – stems from a total lack of empathy, concern or compassion for others. We see it every day online and in the media – people being devastatingly cruel and destructive to others just because they can. They tear people down online but in a cowardly way, using their anonymity as a weapon. Cruelty, backstabbing, and ripping someone to shreds is toxic, and it hurts you as well as your target.

I had a powerful learning experience about this a few years ago. I came into the house one day in a nasty mood, and shared a mean, sniping comment to my husband about the way a neighbor was parenting her child through one of his problem phases. In less than 24 hours, that very same issue the parent was dealing with came home to roost in my house, with my child. It was as if the Universe sent me the message that, “Ah, if you want to be cruel and demeaning about someone, we’ll give you the same experience you’ve judged so negatively, so you can learn some compassion.” And I did.

If you find yourself backstabbing and tearing someone else down, stop in your tracks. Dig deep and find compassion in your heart, and realize that we’re all the same.

Excessive reactivity

An inability to manage your emotions is toxic to everyone around you. We all know these people – men and women who explode over the smallest hiccup or problem. Yelling at the bank teller for the long line, screaming at your assistant for the power point error he made, or losing it with your child for spilling milk on the floor. If you find that you’re overly reactive, losing it at every turn, you need some outside assistance to help you gain control over your emotions and understand what’s at the root of your emotionality. There’s more to it that appears on the surface. An outside perspective – and a new kind of support – is critical.

Needing constant validation

Finally, people who constantly strive for validation and self-esteem by obsessing about achieving outward measures of success, are exhausting to be around. Those men and women who get caught up in the need to prove their worth over and over, and constantly want to “win” over their colleagues or peers, are toxic and draining.

Overly-attaching to how things have to look and be, and to achieving certain milestones and accomplishments rather than going with life in a more flexible, easy manner, can wear you out and bring everyone else around you down . There is a bigger picture to your life, and it’s not about what you achieve or fail at today. It’s about the journey, the process, the path – what you’re learning and applying, how you’re helping others, and the growing process you allow yourself to engage in.

Stop stressing over the particular outcomes like, “I need that promotion now!” or “My house has to be bigger and more beautiful than my neighbor’s.” Your desperate need to prove your success and build your self-esteem through outer measures of success is (sadly) apparent to everyone but you, and it’s pushing away the very happiness outcomes you’re longing for. -Kathy Caprino

10 Signs You’re Working Too Hard – And How to Stop

Vice grip on head

 

The signs of stress are easy to spot. It’s the solutions that can be hard to come by.

If you’ve stopped exercising, can’t sleep and are eating poorly, you’re heading down a road that could lead to a disastrous destination. And if you’re far enough along this destructive path that you’ve abandoned your hobbies and interests, can’t find time for friends or family and are obsessed with work day and night, you may actually need an outside intervention. Don’t be too surprised if it comes unsolicited at the hands of a doctor or lawyer.

It’s best to recognize the early warning signs and address them before someone else does. Here are 10 common signs you’re under too much stress – and suggestions for what to do about it.

1) You’re chained to your desk. An editor at the Chicago Sun-Times once said that he couldn’t take time off. He was afraid the place would fall apart without him – and he was terrified it wouldn’t. If you think the universe depends on you, you’re headed for a high-stress breakdown. Hire people who will do a better job than you ever could, and then celebrate their successes, get out of their way and recharge your batteries regularly.

2) You can’t play nice. A demanding attitude rarely reduces stress, so if you find yourself berating waiters, flight attendants or reservations agents, make a habit of taking an extra minute during every interaction to thank them – and be specific, if possible. In trying to cheer up those who are doing tough jobs, you might also boost your own spirits.

3) Your mind races in circles. You think the root of your stress is that you spend all of your time in a state of intense focus. But really, most people under stress are re-plowing the same field over and over. They confuse this obsessing with focus, but it’s really the opposite. Problems typically get simpler as you work your way through them, so make sure your solutions involve reducing complexity. Then work on execution in bite-sized pieces that are less demanding than the larger initial problem. When your stress is under control, focus will come more easily.

4) Your favorite phrase is “you’ve got mail.” Email may have become a mindless stress reliever for you; but like most things, it’s a two-edged sword. If you’re disciplined, it’s a time-saver. But if your use of it goes unchecked, it morphs into a constant interrupter, a pestering reminder of all you’re having a hard time responding to. So turn off your email – for hours at a time –and work on developing the discipline to check in on a regular schedule and not more frequently.

5) You wallow in self-pity. If you find yourself feeling under-appreciated, change your surroundings – or, at a minimum, change your attitude. Replace self-pity with gratitude, or better yet, find a way to serve those less fortunate than you. In the process, you’ll discover you have a lot to be grateful for, and you’ll be surprised at how transformative that realization can be.

6) You’re always running late. Make a commitment that you’ll be five minutes early to every meeting and every event, and then tell others about it as a way forcing you to curtail the activities that are making you late. This will rarely reduce the quality of your thinking or your work, and it will usually help you re-frame your priorities and focus on your accountability and deliverables.

7) You never take a mental break. I once had a set of partners who bought tickets for me and my wife to take a week’s vacation and promised that none of them would answer calls from me or report anything to me during the trip. At first, I didn’t know what to do with myself; but soon, I lost myself in a book. When I “woke up” I was in another century, as it were, reveling in language, culture and history – things I love, but had forgotten about. Taking mental breaks every once in a while creates opportunities for learning and enjoying new things. To incorporate them into your daily life, set up rules for yourself. One of mine is not to work on airplanes – and since I do a lot of flying, I now do a lot of reading.

8) Your phone has become an appendage. Never turning off your phone, or even worse, being unable to even put it down, leaves you open to constant interruptions. Although I can’t seem to do it, I know busy people who set “office hours” for themselves during which they even block out personal interruptions. The analog to the phone being on all the time is the office door that’s always open. Be sure to give yourself some quiet time to think, to plan, to reflect in a place where there’s no phone and no one walking through the door, even if it’s just for 30 minutes a day.

9) You’re impossible to please. The food isn’t good enough, the hotel’s not convenient enough, your income isn’t high enough. You don’t have enough resources, a strong-enough team, sufficient support from others. The solution to these seemingly external problems is to turn inward and change your mindset. One of my mantras, which I developed when I noticed this warning sign in myself, has become, “I have all I need.”

10) You live in the past or the future. You reminisce, telling stories of past glories. Or you await the future, unable to really start living until a certain goal is behind you. Both of these are signals that you’re living outside the present, a habit that only leads to more stress. Being present in the moment, enjoying the conversation, the meeting, the people and the challenges as they come up will reduce stress.

Over the years, I’ve learned that we can intentionally change our attitudes, habits and self-talk. It’s not a matter of avoiding stress altogether – in fact, some stress can help keep us on our toes. The trick is to monitor our time and attention, to get feedback and to re-calibrate our schedules based on what we learn.

Like a recovering alcoholic, I have to commit every day to smelling the roses. I’ve concluded that to do otherwise will create a form of success at the cost of failing in what matters most: Finding peace from a life well lived – a peace that won’t come from promotions, status, fame or fortune. -Joel Peterson, Chairman, JetBlue Airways

 

Lost in Translation, Again!

Generations

 

Lost in Translation?  A great phrase. It means that words, once translated, can lose the original intent of their meaning.  Or for those who loved the movie, it is the name of the insightful and curiosity-piquing film by Sofia Coppola released over a decade ago.  Either way, people, we have something to talk about.  We’re missing something in our communication.

In the movie, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson play mismatched souls who keep running into each other then begin a fledgling relationship.  Two different generations reach across the great communication divide to create meaning.  YES!  Oh, but wait, must it only happen in the movies?  NO!  Lest we get too excited, we must realize we do have issues when the generational communication wall is scaled.

It’s like we are talking in tongues thinking another generation understands our point of view.  We’re losing meaning in our communication because we don’t have the same meanings to start with!   Meaning is established by shared experience.  And, duh, we don’t share the same experiences, growing up in very different times.  End game?  Concepts are getting lost in translation.  We need to gen up (gather as much as information as we can) about the generations.

4 Concepts That Get Lost in Translation

 1) What Does Respect Mean?

The generational communication workshops I’ve conducted since 2007 tells me for older generations, it is about being acknowledged for status or effort.  For the younger generations it is about having their point of view understood without judgment.  We’re a little off here!

2) Mistakes?

In older generations, it could be grounds for dismissal.  For younger generations, highly influenced by the gaming culture, it’s a learning opportunity.  “What’s the big deal?” Oh, yeah, we have issues. 

 

 3) Trust?

“You have to earn my trust!” versus “Don’t you trust your own judgment…YOU hired me to do this job, now let me do it!” Ouch.

 4) Communication Choices

Why do Millennials choose texting and email over other communication vehicles?  One answer sums it up — “Text and email give me time to compose my thoughts.  I can see the content.  It gives me time to respond versus just react.” Wow, that blows what we might have been thinking right out of the water. 

Given my deep-seeded desire to illuminate generational thinking in an effort to enhance workplace communication, I am on a mission to rid ourselves of preconceived ideas and monitor our own personal bias as we communicate across the generations.  Here are my suggestions:

3 Things You Can Do to Get Your Message Understood

 1) You cannot think that everyone thinks like you. 

Now say this three times, memorize the mantra then create a post-it for your computer.  Everyone does not think like I do.  Get it?  You are judging people as if they were YOU.  I know you know this theoretically — but you may not be getting it emotionally.  Just keep saying it.  The old adage “Fake it ‘til you make it” applies here.    Resist the urge to add “ – and the world would be better off if everyone did think like me.”

 2) Don’t just walk away! Try again.

When you see that look in the person’s eyes that they really do not know where you are coming from when you communicate (or even worse, delegate), don’t just walk away!  Try again.  I know we are in an era where time seems more valuable than gold but we must make a decision.  Do you want to connect the first time or do it over and over again trying to get it right when your expectations aren’t met?  Make the investment.

 3) Tailor your message to the folks you are talking to.

After all, they do not think like you do so you must translate your thoughts into their lingo.  What does this look like in real life?

    • Use visual examples, modify those dry and boring BabyBoomer PowerPoints into something interactive and entertaining if you really want to connect with the younger audience.  (We do that for clients a lot!).
    • Use verbal examples that reference experiences that your audience can relate to and not just that you can relate to.
    • Use words that resonate with each generation.  You can find our more on that front from my May 20, 2013 article, 4 Communication Tips to Open Your Mind & Strengthen Your Vocabulary.

Conclusion

Look.  This translation stuff is tricky.  We think we are communicating because what we say makes sense to us.  In our fast-paced environments where we throw instructions like whiffle balls as we run down hallways, we are not only striking out but we are whiffing big time.  A lot of energy spent with not enough return.

We are missing a handful of key communication concepts about the sender, the receiver and the message. It’s Communications 101 with a generational twist.  Let’s be aware of the hazards of generational miscommunication and make a commitment to translate our concepts well as we send our message by keeping the generations of our receivers in mind.  -Sherri Petro

 

Top 5 Signs You Are a Game Changer

gamechanger2

I was sitting in my office listening the presentation from one of our outside consultants about the fast pace of current technology. “Our world has gone from where big ate small, to where quick eat slow,” said the speaker. It reminded me how much companies today need to have people capable of not only reacting to change but being the agent of change.

Google says there are 48 million hits on this topic so it must be important. I think the more popular term today is game changer.We see this not only being valid externally, but even internally where smaller departments compete for their ideas or processes to be implemented with larger more established ones.

How can you recognize a game changer in your company? Ever better, how can you honestly evaluate yourself to determine if you are a game changer?

When I was in my early twenties, a bunch of us decided to go rafting. As we were standing next to fast pacing current it reminded me of life in general – fast and unpredictable. As one of the boats passed by with ten people in it, they hit one of the steeper falls, the boat flipped over and they all disappeared under the water. Our jaws dropped wide open and as we waited to see the outcome. Ten seconds later, heads started to pop up twenty yard from the steep fall. We all looked at each other and said “Forget it… this is crazy!” Luckily our skipper said calmly:” As long as you paddle and move the boat faster then the current, you can control the boat and current will have minimal impact on you. Nevertheless, if you don’t paddle faster than the current, you are at mercy of the river. Who knows, maybe you will be ok and maybe not.” For some reason that stuck with me and I have viewed my work life through this rafting lesson. Those that go through their life carried by markets, culture and societies are at its mercy, but those who paddle, create markets, change culture and improve societies. They are the ones whose boat stays straight during crises, as did our own boat few hours later. What a lesson!

In this faced paced life, changes occur because there are change makers that influence our business. We might not know who they are, but they surely drive the boat faster then we can react to the current of this river called market. Naturally, we want to get into the game. We want to make the difference, and we want to be noticed as game changers.

I think it has to do with something within us that that tells us that our lives are not ordinary. There is something deep inside of us that wants us to be and viewed as great. Although all evidences point the fact that game changer are doers, the issue starts when we start fantasying about being great as oppose to doing something that will bring great results. We develop a sense of self worth that is either unrealistic or unfounded.

It is called illusory superiority, a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate their positive qualities and abilities and to underestimate their negative qualities. For example, 87% of MBA students at Stanford believe their leadership skills are above median, or 25% puts themselves in top 1%. Do you see an obvious problem with that? Apparently, 80% of drivers also think they are in top 50% of drivers as well.

Here are five signs you need to observe if you ever want to become one:

Sign #1: You are an expert in your field

Second king of Israel wrote in 10 century BC: “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.” Game changes have tendencies to be highly immersed in the area of their expertise. They are not only continuous students of their occupation field, but also teachers (sharers of information) and great partners to his/her peer group.

Challenge yourself:

When was the last time someone asked for your expert advice or asked to create something that was viewed important and critical? Do leaders in your organization share information with you and ask for your opinion? Are you a ‘wanted person’ in your community? Is what you know easily learned searching Google?

Sign #2: You believe in absolutes

Game changers believe that some things are absolutely right and some very wrong. They know the difference when someone misspeaks as opposed to lies. They observe and seek those who plan for greater good versus those who scheme for selfish reasons. Because of that, they firmly seek strategic view and hold firm beliefs of what needs to be accomplished. They are seekers of truth and they cling to it even at high cost. As Martin Luther King once said: ”I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” Game changes believe in absolute good and they are willing to endure injustice for it.

Challenge yourself:

Are you someone who always looks for compromise? Do you believe that all things in life and business are in gray area.

Sign #3: You are not afraid to lose what you have

I remember listening to the story, I believe written by Brazilian author, Paulo Coelho, who describes a ship caught in such fierce storm that sailors couldn’t do anything but to hold on to save their lives. It was one of those 17 century ships armed with cannons. At one point, one of the cannons got loose and it was hitting both sides of the ship as the ship swung from one side to another. Sailors were all holding on to their lives but realized that soon the loose cannon would create a hole in the ship and they would die. The question was obvious:”Who is going to let go, risk their life and secure the cannon in this storm.” The brave man who let go to save the ship was a game changer.

We see it all the times in corporate America. Folks that managed staying out of conflict, just enough to convict people they are easy to work with. They do just what they were told to stay with the company and may even move up the ladder. They want a seat at the table; they want to be a person of influence, but as Scripture says ”In the public square they have nothing to say,” and “even a fool is viewed as wise as long as it keeps his mouth shot.” They are afraid that they will lose that position they waited for so long to obtain, so they don’t lead, they don’t take risks or innovate. Eventually they will arrive at the point in their career which they feared the most – becoming irrelevant.

Challenge yourself:

Next time you see injustice done at work, or people spread lies, will you stand for those unfairly affected.

Sign #4: You are not liked by everyone

Funny, as I was writing this article, a song came on the radio my boys were listening and lyrics started like this:”Isn’t it amazing how a man can find himself alone… He climbs on up the hill…He looks back at the crowd and says ‘I am a difference maker’.

Apostle Paul wrote two thousand years ago to make every effort to live in peace with all, but he never assumed he will be liked along the way. He knew better. Difference makers make change. The majority of people don’t like the change. Here in lies the conflict, especially to those who will lose financial, social or any other influence for change. Game changers often find themselves alone, abandoned by others, yet it is their lives we celebrate throughout history.

Challenge yourself:

Do you claim to be a balanced person, who can work with anyone.

Sign #5: You teach and build into others

Admiral Grace Hopper, once said:” The most important thing I’ve accomplished is training young people. They come to me, you know, and say, “Do you think we can do this?” I say, “Try it.” And I back ’em up. They need that. I keep track of them as they get older and I stir ’em up at intervals so they don’t forget to take chances.”

Game changers care about people, their progress; they teach, support and build into others. They don’t do it for money, or recognition, but simple because they love people. After all, true game changers know that everything they have they received, so they simply pay forward. Down deep inside game changers know they were meant to serve people.

Challenge yourself:

Is there anyone in your life that could use your help today? Do you believe that people need help regardless of their circumstances?

Conclusion:

Some of the questions are not easy to honestly answer. But remember, nobody takes medicine unless they don’t think something is wrong with them, and no game changer fights for change if they think everything is right in the world. The first step in being a game changer is to honestly evaluate yourself and others.

Funny, most people that fight change ultimately have to change anyways, but unfortunately for them on somebody else’s terms. As Jack Welch said:”Change before you have to.” There are game changers out there that are shaping our lives. Are you one of them? – Dominik Dumancic

8 Things Truly Outstanding Leaders Do Without Thinking

Leadership

Once in a while you meet a leader who stands out — even in a room filled with skilled, experienced, successful people. She isn’t just remarkably charismatic. He isn’t just remarkably likeable.

You can tell, in an instant, they simply think and act and lead differently than most people.

But those rare individuals don’t become outstanding leaders overnight. While some are born with an aptitude for leadership, truly outstanding leaders are made. Through training, experience, and a healthy dose of introspection they learn how to make quick decisions. They learn to work with different personalities. They learn to nurture, motivate and inspire.

They learn to truly lead.

And in time those skills become automatic and reflexive. While great leaders do a tremendous amount of thinking, that thinking happens behind the scenes. In the moment, in the trenches, when people look to them and need them most, they act: swiftly, decisively and confidently.

Want to become a truly outstanding leader? Work hard to do these eight things naturally, automatically and instinctively:

1. Praise. It’s easy to tell when employee recognition is simply one entry on a very long to-do list. We’ve all been around people who occasionally — and awkwardly — shake a few hands and pat a few backs. No matter how hard they try to fake it, their insincerity is evident.

No one gets enough praise, so truly outstanding leaders see expressing thanks, giving praise and providing recognition as one gift that can never be given often enough.

Praise is almost like breathing to a truly outstanding leader: natural, automatic, frequent and, most of all, genuine and sincere.

2. Decide. Ideas are great but implementation is everything. Outstanding leaders quickly weigh, assess, decide, and then immediately act–because decisiveness and action build confidence and momentum.

That’s why making a poor decision is often better than making no decision at all. Mistakes can almost always be corrected. Even though you should always try, rarely must you be right the first time. Adapting and learning and revising so you get it right in the end matters a lot more.

Especially when you …

3. Take responsibility. We all make bad decisions. What matters is what we doafter we make those mistakes.

Outstanding leaders are the first to say, “I was wrong.” Outstanding leaders are the first to say, “I made the wrong choice. We need to change course.”

Outstanding leaders instinctively admit their mistakes early and often because they’re quick to take responsibility and because they desperately want to build a culture where mistakes are simply challenges to overcome, not opportunities to point fingers and assign blame.

4. Communicate. Business is filled with what: What to execute, what to implement, what to say and sometimes even what to feel.

What’s often missing is the why.

That’s why so many projects, processes and tasks fail. Tell me what to do and I’ll try to do it; tell me why, help me understand why, help me believe and make that whymy mission too … and I’ll run through proverbial brick walls to do the impossible.

Managers stipulate. Outstanding leaders explain. And then they listen — because the most effective communication involves way more listening than talking.

5. Set the example. Say you’re walking through a factory with the plant manager and you see a piece of trash on the floor. There are two types of people when that happens:

One spots it, stops, struts over, snatches it up, crumples it like a beer can and strides 20 feet to a trashcan to slam it home. He’s picked up the trash, but he’s also making a statement.

The other veers over without breaking stride, picks it up, crumples it up, keeps talking and doesn’t throw it away until he comes across a convenient trashcan. He’s not thinking about making a statement. He just saw a little trash and picked it up without thinking.

Simple example? Sure. But extremely telling — especially to employees.

Why? Employees notice what you do. When you’re in charge, everyone watches what you do. The difference lies in how you do what you do … and what that says about you.

Outstanding leaders do what they do simply because it’s important to them. It’s part of who they are. They care about go, not show — and, in time, so do they people they work with.

6. Give feedback. We all want to improve: to be more skilled, more polished, more successful. That’s why we all need constructive feedback.

Because they care about their employees, not just as workers but as people, outstanding leaders instinctively go to the person struggling and say, “I know you can do this. And I’m going to help you.”

Think about a time when a person told you what you least wanted to hear and yet most needed to hear. They changed your life. Outstanding leaders naturally try to change people’s lives. Even if it’s uncomfortable. Because they care.

7. Seek help. At some point, most people in leadership positions begin to avoid displaying signs of vulnerability. After all, you’re in charge of everything, so you’re supposed to know everything. Of course that’s impossible. You can’t know everything about your job. Your employees can’t know everything about their jobs, either.

Outstanding leaders don’t pretend to know everything. (In fact, they purposely hire people who know more than they do.) So they naturally ask questions. They automatically ask for help.

And in the process they show vulnerability, respect for the knowledge and skills of others and a willingness to listen — all of which are qualities of outstanding leaders.

8. Challenge. Most leaders implement their ideas by enforcing processes and procedures that support those ideas.

For employees, though, engagement and satisfaction are largely based on autonomy and independence. I care a lot more when it’s mine: my idea, my process, my responsibility. I care the most when I feel I am depended on — and given the authority — to make important decisions and do what’s right.

Outstanding leaders create broad standards and guidelines and then challenge their employees by giving them the autonomy and independence to work the way they work best. They allow employees to turn “yours” into “ours,” transforming work into an outward expression of each person’s unique skills, talents and experiences.

That’s a challenge every employee wants to face — and one that outstanding leaders instinctively provide. -Jeff Haden