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Hi, my name is Kai
I love to run teams!
My idea of your leadership is like this: You put yourself “out there” in such a way that everyone notices what you’re capable of immediately. It’s about how great you are at leading and how great it is to work on your team.
How do you do that?
You do it by communicating through clear messages and convincing your team through leadership.
Both help you not only to get your team behind you – but also to climb the career ladder.
I am a trained manager with a great deal of experience.
Since 1989 I have led teams for corporations, SMBs and start-ups, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, Deal United, Twilio, weg.de, Fastly and many others.
At the same time, I help other leaders become more effective.
I like no-bullshit statements, and I keep it simple. It doesn’t matter if it’s about convincing the team or your manager. Both need one thing above all:
Your leadership, which is immediately recognizable—at the very first glance
That's why I started TheExcellentLeader.com.
Here you’ll find everyday tips from the world of leadership.
What do you want to learn today?
Coaching managers to lead co-workers the right way: Why listening is more important than talking
Not listening properly, monologuing, saying stupid things – that’s what many co-workers think about their bosses’ communication.
Surveys regarding communication clearly showed that there are still many managers with potential to improve their own communication skills. The result is often an unnecessary complication of employee management – possibly even misunderstandings and a decrease in motivation. Yet the open conversation is quite important. In order to lead co-workers, to convince them and to win them over for your goals, you have to talk to them and listen to them. Executive coaching can help here.
Most of the employees in this country rate the listening skills of the boss rather insufficient. This is proven by public studies e.g. from the economic academy of executives. Very unattractive, as this could very easily be improved with executive coaching. Most misunderstandings would be easily avoided if the respective persons with leadership mandate would take a little more time to listen actively. But why does a boss find listening so difficult?
When someone acts as a leader, he or she also wants to be seen and appreciated as a doer. The feeling of being in control, even if only supposedly, is often triggered by strong activity. However, active listening in this case does not fall under this, as it is often understood by leaders and authorities as passivity. A resulting focus on speaking instead of listening usually results as a consequence. “After all, the boss is calling the shots”.
Executive coaching to lead own co-workers in times of uncertainty
Every company knows difficult times and uncertainty. Current times hold entirely new challenges for managers. But other circumstances can also herald times of uncertainty for a company: Sudden drops in sales, the need for cost-cutting measures and restructuring, and even streamlining an organization – all of these can have an unsettling effect on co-workers. As a leader, this means that goals are of particular importance. If your co-workers are on your side, you’ll have it all the easier. But how can you do it? After all, you yourself may not be entirely sure how the situation will turn out. Keep these eight points in mind (which are always part of comprehensive leadership coaching) and leadership becomes easy even in times of uncertainty.
1. Open and early communication
If you’ve done a good job of building your team, the co-workers won’t be up in arms. If they suddenly have less to do and the supervisors are getting more and more nervous, they sense that something is wrong. You should definitely avoid a general bad mood spreading through the team. Communication is the key word here. You all suddenly have to tighten your belts? Previously secure privileges are beginning to falter, and requests from co-workers that used to be simply waved through suddenly have to be discussed? Many co-workers are sensitive to such signals, and once rumors start spreading, it becomes increasingly difficult for you as a manager to refute them. Proactive action is called for. Communicate openly and, above all, early on. Every crisis is foreshadowed at least a little before it becomes acute. Inform your co-workers that the course might just get a little bumpier. Only those who are well and timely informed feel like a real part of a team and not mere command receivers. Nobody likes the feeling of being cannon fodder. However, if you have involved your co-workers well in the process, they will presumably be willing to stand by you as co-workers to lead and manage the crisis. Open communication must also be a top priority in executive coaching.
A crisis can easily be compared to a house fire. The co-workers can already smell that something is smoldering, but from their point of view they can’t really assess how bad things are. The worst thing that can happen to you as managers now is that rumors spread. Because rumors act on a crisis like oil on fire. It gets bigger and bigger. Whispers add new trouble spots every day, and so even aspects that don’t belong to the crisis at all suddenly become part of a larger whole. If you don’t contain this in time, soon the whole house will be in flames, although actually there was only a small flash in the pan.
Of course, every crisis can also mean that something changes for individual co-workers. But if you’ve had good coaching and talked honestly with your co-workers, they’ll be able to assess the situation. They may even have ideas of their own about how they can be part of the solution to the co-worker problem. However, avoid horror scenarios in your honesty. Because these also become bigger and bigger as a result of the team discussions. What is important is a realistic assessment: What could happen, what could be the next consequences. Equally important, however, is the charisma of your competence: What is leadership doing to deal with the problem? What have leaders already done to contain the crisis?
3. Standing by decisions
One of the most important points in executive coaching. Times of uncertainty are also times of decisions. They can also turn out to be unpopular. Suddenly bonuses are dropped, otherwise usual perks are no longer so self-evident. It may even be the case that requests from co-workers have to be rejected because, for example, it is a question of cost that the co-worker is unable to assess in its entirety. If you as a manager have made a decision, you should be able to stand by it. In a company, it’s like in a family: Only make decisions that you can stand by at the end of the day. Of course, you should not put yourself in a situation where you have to justify every decision. Executive coaching prepares you for these situations. Of course, you should always remain honest and when you have made a decision, you should not give the responsibility to others. The bank does not decide for you, you do it yourself. If you show weakness here and always blame others for unpopular decisions, this does not show good leadership, but actually reduces your credibility.
4. Nobody likes to be fooled
Every crisis has its winners, but also its losers. This is part and parcel of change processes, which involve times of uncertainty. It is therefore essential to avoid constantly insisting on the great, mysterious “we. Because if you always focus on the “we,” co-workers will rightly expect to be part of this collective until the bitter end. But what if you’re faced with a situation where you have to make layoffs? Managers have to make that happen, too. Then the collective breaks apart and the previously strong wall of the team crumbles. No one likes to perform and then be punished. Spreading hope is important in times of uncertainty, but you shouldn’t be the great fairy tale uncle who creates the illusion that everything will be okay in the end. Executive coaching significantly addresses important communication. A slogan like “Sometimes things have to change for things to change” is much more helpful than “Everything will be great.” Because it may not. Things have to change and that may involve the unpopular decisions already mentioned. Honesty will be appreciated by co-workers, even if it means they themselves come under negative consequences of the changes. In executive coaching these processes can be visualized, practiced and deepened.
5. Executives and constructive communication
It is not the job of leaders to be as popular as possible. If you join in general whining and complaining, it will only bring you short-term sympathy. However, it does not show strength, but rather weakness. But your team needs your strength, especially when times are uncertain. It only becomes constructive when managers show that it is entirely possible for you to emerge stronger from the crisis. Every crisis offers the possibility of being successfully mastered. Good preparation is everything: Show your co-workers that you have already successfully mastered other difficult situations. Pointing out possible solutions is also a step in the right direction. Your co-workers should see and feel in all circumstances: I am in good hands here in all difficulties. I can do something myself to improve the situation. My manager still knows what needs to be done and is not blindly poking around in a plethora of possible solutions. There is still a plan here and we are sticking to it now.
6. Crystal-clear goal setting
Even in a crisis, managers should not lose sight of their goals. Of course, these look different now than they did before the times of uncertainty. But good co-workers know this and can adapt to it through open communication. You can see it already: communication is everything. Crystal-clear goal-setting gives your co-workers a good foothold, and they need it when the course starts to lurch. Good preparation and coaching is everything here: develop a concrete plan that includes clear actions for each co-worker. It should also include milestones for the entire team. Because then every co-worker knows what his or her task is. They feel part of the solution and can work toward their own and the team’s goals. Only in this way is it possible to continue to work well together as a team. Because if everyone knows who has to do what to overcome the crisis together and if it is clear who is in charge, the boat can be moved back into safe waters.
7. No room for whiners and complainers
You have set concrete goals and milestones for your team and yourself. For managers, it is important to control these. Especially in uncertain times, control is one of the most important steps. After all, how will you know if you’re back on track if you never check? So check at regular intervals to see if you and the co-workers are on track when it comes to reaching the milestones you’ve set. If you notice that co-workers tend to complain and whine, you must be aware that this has an unfavorable impact on the brand already mentioned. You have to take action immediately. Avoid exposing the co-worker in question, because then he will no longer want to stand by your side. But confront him, ideally in a one-on-one meeting, with the possible effects of his negative speech and actions. It’s good if you show him the options: You can either surrender to the situation and sink into it. Then everything will get worse and worse and you will emerge from the situation as losers. Or you can work together to make things better. A coaching shows different means for this. Give him the choice: Which of these options does he prefer? As a good co-worker, he will want to choose the second option. Agree with him what his next steps are and how he can continue to be part of the solution. Some people are not even aware of their whining at that moment. Now you have brought it into awareness. Then the behavior should change. If it doesn’t, you need to be consistent. Everyone deserves a second chance, but they should take advantage of it. You show good leadership qualities when you don’t let whining take hold, because it will only end in a spiral of negativity. Leadership coaching teaches you to recognize and act positively and effectively.
8. Celebrate together
Even if the crisis is not completely mastered – even first partial successes want to be celebrated. This shows your co-workers that you don’t take it for granted that they are helping you so well. “Not complaining is praise enough” may be suitable as a joke, but it is not a good leadership style. Celebrating successes together, on the other hand, will motivate your co-workers to achieve the other successes as well. Because then they know that the managers have the big picture in mind and definitely register who is part of the solution and who is not. They know they are on a good path and will continue to march in that direction.
With all this guidance, it’s important for leaders to remain human. Managing employees is always a balance of strength and a buddy pat on the back. Even in a crisis, treat your co-workers humanely. Take their concerns seriously and talk to them if necessary. But don’t lose yourself in humanity. After all, managers have to make decisions. This sometimes means that you have to act quickly. Talking for the sake of talking has never led a team out of a crisis. Create a healthy mix of talk and action. Your co-workers will perceive this as good leadership and you as a strong captain, and they will be all the more willing to get involved in resolving the crisis. At the end of the day, your co-workers also know that all leaders are human too. No master has fallen from the sky – even in coaching – and if you have a good standing in the team, they will also forgive you for mistakes.
Nevertheless, act competently even in times of uncertainty. Not every decision can be made from the hip. Get all the necessary information before you start. In doing so, also weigh up possible further decisions. Few things are more untrustworthy than executives who constantly have to admit mistakes and revise themselves. It’s also clear that you can’t know everything yourself. When it’s necessary, your honesty comes into play. You need information? Ask the co-workers who deal with it every day. After all, you’re the manager, not the skilled worker. Again, coaching can always be useful for all managers and can enhance existing potential.
You don’t need to know everything, but you do need to know where to get information. This doesn’t show weakness in the least, even for executives, as you might suspect. It shows that you can assess your own limitations and that you are quite willing to accept help. Again, however, make sure that your position remains strong: Your co-worker is allowed to give you information. He may also make suggestions to you. But he will neither be the person who has the final decision in his hands, nor will he have to take the fall if the decision was wrong.
It is also a fact that managers are not prophets.
At the end of the day, you can’t know how things will turn out. You can lead, and you can set goals and milestones. But if conditions change, you may well have to adjust course. If that’s the case, you can go back to points 1-8. Even a timely announced change of course will not throw your co-workers off the boat, and if they continue to see themselves as part of the solution, they will stand by your side even as the course changes.
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