Archives For team members

frustrationTo be completely honest, a consistent daily generalized frustration with the status quo is my core personal motivational tool.  My general frustration drives me every day to push myself and those around me to grow and create change.  It is that intrinsic need to move the world from where it is, on a straight line to that vision I see in my mind of success.  For years I believed that letting that frustration drive me and empower me would help me be a better leader.

Frustration is an extremely powerful emotion, and it can be an influential internal motivation tool.  But that same driving frustration, if displayed can have catastrophic effects on the people you intend to lead and ruin the connection and trust a leader may have with their team or the employees they manage.

Books and movies have long glorified the passionate leader standing at the head of the boardroom table barking commands with hands waving in an animated display of frustration and power.  As they reach the climax of their tirade their eyebrows furrow together, their lips narrow, and they glare their eyes in an alpha display of anger. As they wade through all of the problems driving the spectacle their nose wrinkles and they raise their upper lip revealing clenched teeth and turning their heads away in disgust.  As the passion wanes from the release of emotion, their eyes go flat, and with a small shrug of a shoulder and curling of the lip on one side they deliver the final blow to the team with a clear demonstration of contempt.  In no uncertain terms, without hearing a single word of the “motivational speech” everyone in the room recognizes their lack of worthiness and inferiority.

While this exhibition may certainly make for a great moment of entertainment and give the leader a momentary sliver of emotional satisfaction, it couldn’t be more toxic for the people he or she intends to lead.

Whenever I have this conversation with other leaders they often come back with a subtle display of contempt paired with a slight shaking of the head as they explain that they never “fly off the handle” like that.

The truth is, these toxic moments are rarely that public or animated. Usually it is a slight shrug or sigh when someone comes to the leader with a question or a rolling of the eyes when a team member shares a “not so great” idea.  These subtle demonstrations of frustration can be just as toxic, if not more so than a public tirade.

What I share with new leaders is that we are NEVER openly frustrated with our people or our environment.  A frustrated leader who is showing frustration in their verbal and body language can literally kill a business.  When a leader is frustrated, the signals they are sending clearly resonate as contempt for those around them.  Not only does this destroy the positive cf2102-f4_defaultenvironment we are working to create. It kills motivation, initiative, and communication of the team.  There is nothing more toxic for a team than a leader demonstrating frustration and contempt.  Team members will stop communicating and demonstrating initiative because their primary goal then becomes either avoidance of the leader, or focusing on just the things they know they are doing right so as not to increase the leaders frustration. If a leader is beginning to feel frustrated, instead of pointing out the problems, blowing up, or blaming others they should be pointing the finger at themselves and focus on personal leadership growth, and becoming the beacon of inspiration for their team.

The key to finding a balance is to use your internal motivation from your personal emotional frustrations to drive your inspiration toward personal and business growth, but keep those toxic emotions from erupting when working with your team. Make it a goal to maintain the “4 C’s” of leadership. Candor, Connection, Character, and Competence.

Creating a successful business is hard, and it often takes a few more pounds of flesh than the start-up team anticipated. But concurrently, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences you might ever undertake. It reminds me a lot of parenting. You get less sleep than you thought was humanly possible, it costs you more emotionally and financially than you ever expected, but you wouldn’t trade a minute of it for anything, and you need a good partner.

I have personally experienced the ups and downs of the affliction that is the entrepreneurial spirit. Within the multiple companies I have had the opportunity to be involved in, some have succeeded and some have crashed and burned before they ever got off the runway. But I have found some similarities in the ones that succeed and that is what I call the Entrepreneurial Triad.

While there are a number of “must have” components on my list for a start-up opportunity, the Entrepreneurial Triad is something I look for first. Ideally it consists of three people with three specific roles they are bringing to the table.

  1. The Visionary – Every start-up needs a dreamer. An individual with a vision of a better future brought forth by the success of the business. Someone who inspires thTriade team around them and influences them while positively pushing forward the vision. Often the Visionary is the source of the business start-up “idea” and passionately believes in its potential success.
  2. The Expert – The Expert brings a substantial amount of experience in either business and finance, capital acquisition, or expertise in the specific field or area the business is focused on. As an example, if the business is to be in the financial field, the expert may be a CPA, former CFO, or experienced financial adviser. If the business in the medical field, the expert will likely have a PHD or doctorate with specific focus in the field the business is focused on.
  3. The Builder – The Builder brings everything together and is a master of resource acquisition and business systems. The Builder capitalizes on the knowledge of the Expert and the mission defined by the Visionary to create a disciplined business culture with an ethic of entrepreneurship that can result in a magical alchemy of great performance and business success.

The Entrepreneurial Triad also offers other advantages over start-ups by sole proprietors or two person “partnerships”. Start-ups can be a wild emotional ride and major challenges driving uncomfortable conflict is inevitable. As the start-up endures the entrance into the market it will experience a massive learning curve and be faced with major pivoting decisions in order to keep the train on the tracks.  In this environment, often sole proprietors experience decision paralysis as they face these challenges alone. Partnerships often experience a similar decision paralysis but often due to the inability of two individuals with opposing viewpoints to agree on major business decisions.  The Triad by comparison can often transition through these tough times, not only due to the combined consciousness of three minds, but with an inherent checks and balances system found in the power of 3. Triads react and make better, quicker business decisions and can often find common ground among at least the majority of stakeholders.

Thinking about a start-up? Gather your entrepreneurial triad before you take the exciting plunge. One third ownership of a flourishing business beats 100% ownership of a migraine headache every time.

Keep building!

Lots of leadership books and speakers talk about what you need to be doing as a leader. Inspiration, influence, and impact showing care, candor, character, and competence. But, what does your team want out of their opportunity and how can you support it?

Human beings are strange and complex. These six expectations every team member is looking for when they come to work demonstrate that complexity.

Certainty – Everyone needs to know that the sun is going to rise tomorrow and that the doors of the business will be open.  Base level requirements for everyone is the ability to rely on some things being certain and reliable. Without base level certainty, anarchy erupts.

Uncertainty – Yep, we all also need an element of uncertainty in our lives.  Will I have the opportunity to lead that project? How will the prospect react to the sales scripts I have been practicing? How will the boss react to my idea for change in my department? There must be some level of uncertainty to create the excitement that keeps people motivated. Some jobs can get monotonous. When in doubt, create a little uncertainty and watch the team spring back to life.

Significance – An extremely important need within us all that is often defined by our professional lives is our significance to others and influence in our department, company, community, and the world at large.  Feedback clarifies each individual’s significance in their world and providing regular praise to those who work with, above, and below reminds every one of their significance and supports a positive outlook.  Team members that are feeling insignificant will often resort to gossip and uncooperative competition with other team members.

Connection – Regardless of an individual’s MBTI or DISC personality profile, humans need connection to other people. Some introverts may prefer a small number of deep connections while others a wide range of many connections. But maintaining a connection with those you work with and those you serve is essential to maintaining a connection with “why” we all do what we do.

Growth – This need cannot be stressed enough and it is often the most ignored.  Inspiration and passion directly stem from curiosity and personal growth.  Not only must a leader demonstrate personal growth, but also provide opportunities for team members to learn and grow in areas they have strengths or curiosity.  Many of the most productive and inspiring leaders are lifelong “learners” and your business growth can be heavily dependent on the personal growth of the team.

Contribution – Few things feel better and are more motivating than taking a step back and saying “I did that”.  When I was younger, every fall my father would purchase and have me “stack” what felt like endless cords of firewood. But when I was done and could see the long rows of perfectly stacked firewood, I felt accomplished and that my contribution to the family was visible. In our highly evolving and fast paced digital world it is easy to lose sight of the big picture contribution. Discovering ways to make those contributions visible will pay long term dividends.