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5 Quick Actions for Managers to Improve Their Leadership

This article was based on episode 250 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Members of the Modern Manager community get two months of Fast Forward membership for free. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.


I greatly appreciate the diverse insights that all of my podcast guests bring to my show. Still, some ideas stand out and have an outsized impact on my approach to management. Today, I want to share five guests whose ideas have stuck with me. I’ll share both the idea and a practical, quick way to apply this idea to your own team.


IDEA #1: MOTIVATE YOUR TEAM MEMBERS BY IDENTIFYING THEIR CORE VALUES


In episode 219 with Rob Toomey, he explains the Four Temperaments as four core values that align with specific Myers Briggs types. While personality tests have been taking a hit in the Twittersphere recently, with Adam Grant questioning the validity of popular assessments, I and many others find them incredibly useful and scientifically sound. This model provides insight into a person’s preferences, not their skills or capabilities, which can help us understand what motivates them. To figure out who your team members are and apply it to what they need, consider four areas:


  • Introversion/Extroversion is about where we get our energy, either from being alone or with others.

  • Sensing/Intuition is about your preference for ideas and information. Sensors focused on the short term, practical realities and past experiences while Intuitives look to the future possibilities and big picture.

  • Thinking/Feeling is about how we make hard decisions. Thinkers first think logically, considering the pros and cons, while Feelers rely heavily on a gut feeling, what their emotions are telling them and the impact a decision will have on people.

  • Judging/Perceiving is about our preference for structuring time. Judgers have a plan they stick to and push for closure, while Perceivers are more spontaneous and open, and can feel pressured when having to make decisions.


Rob explains the Four Temperaments that are based on specific combinations of these personality dimensions. Each has a unique set of core values which tap into a person’s intrinsic motivation. Once you understand what matters to someone, you can help unlock their full potential.


Action: Listen to episode 219: Motivation Through Core Values with Rob Toomey. Then, take five minutes to consider what you notice most about your teammates. Where do they each seem super engaged or frustrated? How. might you manage each person differently based on the clues about their personality and core motivators?


IDEA #2: PAUSE AND TAKE A BREATH


In episode 229: Overcoming Obstacles with Joel Green, Joel notes that emotions cloud our judgment way too often. In order to respond rather than react when external stimuli get our heart pumping, we need to learn the art of the pause. It’s critical for us to take a moment to breathe in order to allow our brain to regroup and find clarity. In that moment, we can ask ourselves how we can think about the situation differently, what we want to get out of this conversation, or who we want to be in this moment. Responding with intention makes all the difference in the world.


Action: Take ten minutes to consider a few times it would have been better to pause, regroup, and respond instead of reacting. Do you notice anything in common? Is there a mini routine you can do in five seconds that will help you relax when emotionally charged? It can be something as small as squeezing your fists or repeating a calming mantra.


IDEA #3: BE CONSCIOUS OF THE SEEDS YOU’RE PLANTING


In episode 237: Create the Conditions for Joy in the Workplace with Akaya Windwood, Akaya shares a number of vignettes that have deep lessons for life. In one story, she notes that our team is always watching us, learning from our every move how we expect them to behave. That means that intentionally or not, our words and actions have positive and negative consequences. Even if we are not purposefully planting those seeds, we will see behaviors start to sprout from our teammates in response to how we act.


Action: Take five minutes to reflect on your automatic behaviors. It could be something as simple as how you prepare for meetings or how you give praise. Think about what lessons your team might be taking from these behaviors, in positive and negative ways. What’s one small thing you could do to create a different experience for them in the future? Do it and see what happens.


IDEA #4: BE HONEST ABOUT THE CHALLENGES OF CHANGING


In episode 193: Navigating Change, Ambiguity and Uncertainty with Russ Linden, Russ urges us to acknowledge that with change comes loss. When a change is coming to your team, it may feel tempting to only focus on the positives. (This is going to speed our processes by 30%!) The truth is, however, that most change is bittersweet. Give your people realistic expectations and space to grieve for what they are losing. (We’ll no longer get to spend time together working on this process. Or, I won’t be an expert anymore now that the computer is doing my job.) While in the long term, the change may be good, be honest about the short term challenges. Lessen the blow by explaining how you are there to support them through the change step by step.


Action: If you had a change recently or are planning for one in the near future, reach out to your colleagues to discuss their experience of the change. Acknowledge that it’s okay to feel loss and offer some creative opportunities to honor the past.


IDEA #5: VALIDATE OTHERS BEFORE ADDRESSING A CONFLICT


In episode 228: Keep Calm and Address Conflicts with Hesha Abrams, Hesha offers an amazing analogy for dealing with conflict: Spaghetti sauce spilled on the counter. It’s easy to clean up if you do it right away. If you leave it overnight, you have to scrape it off. Leave it for a few months, and it’s super gross and difficult to clean.


The quicker we address conflict, the easier and better. The magic elixir to disarming someone during conflict is validation. It can transform the energy and shift their mindset in seconds. The reason for this is that when we feel validated, we feel powerful. When we feel powerful, our amygdala calms down. To validate another, just name the emotion you are noticing from them. (You seem upset about the way that decision was made.) Listen to how they respond and take your cues from them.


Action: Think about who on your team needs validation right now. What conflicts have you been avoiding? Prepare for that tough conversation by identifying how you can validate that person’s emotions or experience.


As the weather turns to spring, consider what new possibilities are available for you to transform your team. Often just spending five minutes thinking through a different approach can be so powerful. Whether it’s managing differently based on a person’s preferences, validating your teammates’ point of view, accepting the losses that come with any change, or examining how to calm yourself down better, big changes come from small steps. Whatever actions you decide to take on this month, congratulate yourself on intentionally planting seeds for a stronger team. You’ll see exciting results as the year goes on.



Get a full 360 coaching process with Mamie at a drastically discounted price of $250 (more than 75% off!) when you become a member of the Modern Manager community at themodernmanager.com/join.


This article was based on episode 250 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.


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