Tag Archives: positive leadership

Four Reasons Leaders Need To Avoid Labels

Labels were part of my upbringing. I say that because in my family each child was given a label to describe their abilities or personality. One of us was the baker and dramatic. One of us was pushy and a guitar player. One of us was an ice skater and not an academic. And crazy as it may seem, we lived up to those descriptions. They became us and we became them. It’s a very interesting phenomenon, that if we are told that we should behave or act in a certain way or that we are talented or not so capable, we tend to gravitate towards those depictions. We even create a narrative about who we are and what we can accomplish based on those labels.

Similarly in our companies and on our teams, we place labels on the people we work with. We decide early on who they are and what they are able to contribute. We continue to believe that the characteristics we attach to our co-workers and bosses are there for the long haul, never to be adjusted. This is how it is and we evaluate each of our strengths using those labels.

Leaders need to recognize that when they label the people they work with they are not empowering them to be their best or live up to their potential. Rather, the label becomes a self-limiting belief.

 Four reasons leaders need to avoid labels:

 1. LABELS ARE IMPRECISE WAYS OF DESCRIBING OTHERS

If we believe that stereotyping is never a helpful way to assess other people’s abilities, then labeling others falls into the same category. When we attach a particular attitude or ability to someone, we are using a “judgy” word to describe their capabilities rather than being specific about the value they may bring to a project or solution. Adjectives are often a waste of time and only add confusion to working with others.

2. LABELS BECOME SELF-FULFILLING PROPHESIES

We know that when children are “tracked” in how they will academically perform, they tend to stay exactly in that zone. If they are told they are only capable of achieving average grades they begin to believe it and just turn in average work. On the other hand, if they believe they have the potential to rise to outstanding work, they often will get there one way or another. The same is true with the people we work with. If they think we believe they can contribute in an outstanding way they often will.

  • Encourage each team member to try new things and take risks
  • Give credit generously
  • Stop yourself from using labels like “lazy”, “not capable” or “overwhelmed”

3. LABELS CREATE STIGMAS

When leaders use labels other colleagues and departments may start to believe the labels too. So if we say that a team member is not committed (another nutty adjective) others may start to believe that too. This is how we stigmatize people. STOP! Everyone is entitled to have a good and bad day or a more or less successful project. Work on developing the strengths in others and help team members overcome their blindspots.

4. LABELS BRING A TEAM AND ORGANIZATION DOWN

When teams get in the habit of labeling members they will tend to rely on the same people to always do the same work. The result will be less creative outcomes and less participation. Team members will not grow because they will not be encouraged to try projects outside of their “label”. An organization will never develop new leaders with new perspectives or capabilities unless we dump the practice of labeling.

How have labels impacted your leadership or team?

Hit Your Creativity Button To Delight Customers

During a recent short out- of- town adventure, my leadership antennae went into high gear. Going into any new local, I am usually very excited and pumped to learn and recharge my batteries. It is a great opportunity to take time to just think and dream and plan. This particular trip involved heavy rains, flooding and thunderstorms. They were relentless and I was at a “beachy” resort. To add to the frustration, nobody at the resort seemed particularly caring or concerned with the needs of their visitors. Except for one amazing maintenance man. A true leader.

 When we initially arrived the conversation with an employee at the front desk sounded like this:

“Welcome… Continue reading | 6 Comments

Five Tactics To Becoming An Empowered Leader

Leadership is not about a position or title. Leadership is not about taking over a team and dictating what needs to be accomplished. Leadership is not about lecturing others to make sure our ideas are selected for a solution. Leadership is not about being the loudest or smartest in the room.

So what is leadership all about?

Leadership is all about becoming empowered and helping others become empowered. It is about creating cultures of empowerment within organizations and teams. When we feel empowered we can lead with confidence and compassion. We can impact our worlds of work in meaningful and purposeful ways.

Here are five tactics to becoming an empowered leader:

What Changes When Leaders Meet Face-To-Face?

For many years I have been partnering with an organization to provide leadership training for many different industries. As with any long-term collaboration, we sometimes disagree or view the customer challenges from different perspectives. If we end up being on opposite pages of thinking, we talk it through to come up with a solution that we both could live with. But recently things started to change. There was a clean sweep of leadership in the organization and before I realized what had happened I started dealing with an entire new group of “names.” I describe the new leaders as “names” because that is all I had to go on. I had no faces to connect… Continue reading | 8 Comments

Leadership Is All About Flexing To Others

pic-for-leaders-who-flex

The leaders in my recent leadership programs focused on getting to know what makes them tick. They spent a great deal of time looking inwards to get a feel for how they behave and present themselves to team members as well as to colleagues. For many, it was an eye-opening process to realize they are extremely methodical or naturally run with their gut.

One participant shared:

“I have no patience to listen to long drawn out stories and procedures. Why can’t people just get to the point?”

Another participant revealed:

“It is so hard for me to make a quick decision. I really need in-depth information and facts before I can… Continue reading | 6 Comments