Archive for August, 2017

5 Reasons Charisma Makes More Effective Leaders

Monday, August 28th, 2017

Charisma is seldom used to describe a necessary skill for effective leadership. Personal charm has its place in society, but is it needed in the boardroom?

People with charisma get their message across. It’s a trait that can be hard to define but easy to spot.

Several of the FBI agents with whom I worked had charisma. They had the ability to captivate and motivate other people. The audience could be a single person who gives their testimony. Or, it could be a room full of venture capitalists who learn about economic espionage.

As a leader, entrepreneur, or business owner, charisma will help you reassure your stakeholders—whether they are investors, employees, or clients. If you have charisma, it helps you to communicate that, as the person in charge, you have what it takes to make the vision happen.

Charisma is so powerful because it is rooted in values and emotions. To persuade others, or to motivate them, we need to use compelling language to rouse followers’ emotions and passions. This allows us to tap into the hopes and dreams of our employees, clients, and investors. The truly charismatic leader knows how to give his people a sense of purpose and inspire them to achieve great things.

Politicians know the importance of charisma, but few leaders or managers make an attempt to develop it. While a knowledge of technology and operating procedures is essential in today’s marketplace, the most effective leaders add a layer of charismatic leadership on top.

Recent research suggests that charisma can be learned. Scientists who study it say it’s less a natural gift and more a set of behaviors that anyone can learn.

Research was conducted with a group of midlevel European executives trained in charismatic leadership tactics. Researchers found that their leadership ratings rose by 60%. The researchers then repeated the charismatic leadership training tactics in a large Swiss firm. Overall, they found 65% of people trained received above average ratings. In contrast, among people who had not been trained, only 35% received above average ratings.

Let’s take a look at some charismatic training that can make you a more effective leader:

1. Empathize

Put yourself in another person’s shoes. Empathy is the ability to see things from another person’s perspective and to understand how that person is feeling.

Using a phrase like, “I feel your anger,” is much better than “I can relate to that.” Establishing an emotional connection with people is always a good idea, even in a business setting.

I often use the phrase, “I sense that you are disappointed.” It lets the other person know that I understand what they are going through without making it seem as though I feel sorry for them.

2. Focus

If charisma is making the other person feel understood, it’s important for you to turn off your inner voice and focus on them.

We tend to focus on what we’re going to say next or how the other person’s message will affect us. As a result, we fail to hear what is really being said. While we may hear words, their meaning might get lost.

Focus on the other person when they speak. You may forget how you wanted to respond but so what? It’ll come to you later. Your real goal is to let them know that they connected with you.

3. Listen

If we focus and turn off our inner voice, it is much easier to listen to the other person. Listening is another behavior that can be learned. When you listen to what the other person says, you can reflect back what you heard.

I often use a phrase like, “This is what I heard you say….” and then rephrase the conversation in my own words. This lets the other person know I was listening and that I care about what they said.

4. Enthusiasm

The ability to uplift another person through praise of their actions or ideas is an essential leadership skill. Enthusiasm is difficult to fake but if you need to at first, go ahead. Enthusiasm is contagious but it is most potent when you sincerely engage with what someone else is saying or doing.

One of the easiest ways to generate enthusiasm is to smile and ask questions. Even if you don’t agree with what the other person is saying, ask questions to deepen your understanding of their position. This doesn’t mean you become a “yes person,” but do try to show a bit of real enthusiasm when an idea is presented. Give them their 15 minutes in the spotlight. Later, you can go back to them with specific reasons why the idea won’t fly.

5. Eye Contact

Eye contact is a powerful form of human connection. When someone’s gaze shifts away from us, we sense that their attention has also shifted away.

If you practice empathy and demonstrate good listening skills, people will want you to look at them. Remember eye contact requires you to meet and maintain another person’s gaze.

6. Expression

Stop the botox injections so that your face can show expressions. Show others that you are feeling empathy with their situation by being more expressive with your face.

The flipside of showing emotions in your face is knowing how to control them as well. Mental toughness is the ability to control emotions that can sabotage you when you’re not paying attention. Don’t let others see that you are angry or exasperated with them. Moderate what people see by being in control of your emotions.

To understand how you come across to others, practice having a conversation with yourself in front of a mirror. Notice how you express emotions in your face. If in doubt on how to act, watch charismatic people on TV and then mimic their expressions.

7. Stories

The Harvard Business Review reported that researchers have found that stories make our messages more engaging and help listeners connect with as the speaker.

In one example, a manager motivated her employees during a crisis by comparing the current situation to her experience climbing a mountain during dangerous weather conditions. She told them how working together saved her and the team on that mountain. Pulling it all together, she motivated her employees to work together so they could turn their immediate situation around as well.

8. Three-Part Lists

Three-part lists are good way to summarize your message into key takeaways. Most people can remember three things so make your pitch pithy and memorable. For example:

First, we need to look back and see what we did right. Next, we need to see where we went wrong. Then, we need to come up with a plan that will convince others to give us the resources to get it right next time.

When you are direct and spit out your message in clear and precise terms to your audience, it shows that you respect both their intelligence and their time.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

8 Powerful Ways To Deal With A Problem Employee

Monday, August 21st, 2017

The problem employee shows up in every aspect of life because they don’t leave their idiosyncrasies at work. They take them with them wherever they go.

I had to learn how to deal with people with irritating personalities as a counterintelligence FBI agent. Walking away just because an informant was unpleasant was not an option. I needed to work with them and bring them onto my team because often they had unique information of value.

As entrepreneurs, business owners, and leaders you will encounter a problem employee at some point. They can waste a lot of your valuable time and sow discord among the other employees.

Don’t get sucked into a vortex of frustration. Sometimes you need mental toughness to understand how to best deal with these types of employees. Here’s a list of the 8 most common problem employees and how to motivate them to improve their behavior:

1. The One Who Expects Perfection

There is always that problem employee who knows the right way to do things and is only too willing to show you. They have a tendency to make you, and others, feel flawed and judged. Their bottom line is often something like, “Let’s get it done right,” not “Let’s all be friends.”

Perfectionists are people who operate by the book and like to follow standard operating procedures. They can be a pain the butt if your work environment is chaotic because they are not comfortable with change.

TIP: Set up a clear chain of command and insist everyone go through proper channels. Start and end meetings on time—a perfectionist likes schedules. Explain exactly how you want things done; this provides the structure that the employee needs.

2. The One Who Wants To Be Your Best Friend

This is the problem employee who feels it’s all about relationships rather than the bottom line. They can take up an inordinate amount of time talking to you, and others, in an attempt to build that relationship.

The insecure ones are suck ups. Their lack of confidence in their skill set is compensated by using flattery and ingratiating behavior. They feel more comfortable leaning into personal relationships than applying their skills to get the job done.

TIP: Be generous with praise, but don’t reward them for fawning. Stick to the facts and never confront them with the problem. Most of them do not realize they have crossed the line.

3. The One Who Is An Overachiever

There is one in every crowd. As a leader, you may not recognize the overachiever as a problem employee. Authority figures tend to respond well to them because—well, they get things done! They go above and beyond what is asked or expected of them.

Overachievers can be impatient, with you and others. They often are not good team players and chafe at following strict rules. Be cautious about putting a perfectionist and an overachiever together on a project.

TIP: Don’t appeal to the warm and fuzzy side of their personality; they may not have one. Don’t micromanage them or ask them to slow down. Pay attention to the tension they may create with your less overachieving employees.

4. The One Who Thrives On Drama

Feelings and emotions are usually fairly close to the surface with this type of problem employee. They spend a lot of time in the depth of their tragedy and are often moody when things are not going well.

Frequently in emotional flux, dramatics tend to be inconsistent because they are mood driven and take things personally.

TIP: Be empathetic; they will feel valued and understood. If they become hysterial or overly dramatic, take a look at what is triggering it in their work environment. This employee does not do well in bureacracies or repetitious work. Instead, put them in work spaces where they can express themselves to others.

5. The One Who Analyzes Everything

Nerds are usually intelligent and thrive on scientific-like methods. They tend to be loners and not good team players. They attain their power from collecting information and knowing more than you do about a project.

Nerdy types like to feel prepared so give them plenty of advance warning if you need something. They’ll love you if you feed them information because knowledge is the currency that gives them the edge.

TIP: Don’t place this employee in a fast-paced environment where there’s no time to think or collect information. They do best in closed door situations where there are fewer interpersonal demands and interruptions.

6. The One Who Is A Worrier

Worrywarts are the ones who fret about everything, from their own abilities to your competence as a leader. They also tend to complain or second guess your decisions as a leader.

Never tell this problem employee to “not worry!” They will mistrust you and worry even more. They can be great strategists because they are always thinking. If you direct their energy toward worrying about how the competition might get a leg up, they can be a great resource.

TIP: They do not do well in environments where change is sudden or without notice. They perform best when there are clear rules to follow and where change is not introduced without preparation, caution, and all questions are answered.

7. The One Who Is A Slacker

We all dislike this problem employee and it’s tempting to eliminate the problem by firing them. If they are lazy and/or incompetent, sooner rather than later is best. Before you do, though, make sure you’ve come to the right conclusion about them. Make sure they are not bored or under-challenged.

Very often what they really need is more structure. Work with them to set goals and make these goals appeal to their emotion. They need to find a way to connect with their interests and strengths.

TIP: Often these are the people who thrive in environments that are in constant flux and change. Ask them lots of questions to get their creative juices flowing and then give them permission to follow through with their ideas.

8. The One Who Is Bossy

You have your very own Attila the Hun—lucky you! They thrive on taking charge and will not hesitate to undermine you if they don’t have ownership in the project. They do not hesitate to talk over people, including you, and use very forceful and blunt language to get their ideas across.

Bossy people don’t like to waste time dithering about what should be done. They respect leaders who say what they mean, so spit your news out fast and straight.

TIP: First, you need to determine whether the employee is a blowhard or whether they really can get in front of a situation, take the heat, and assume responsibility. Second, earn their respect. If they respect you as a leader, you can come together as a team.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”

How To Develop Grit In Times Of Crisis

Monday, August 14th, 2017

The Chinese word for crisis is made by combining two characters meaning crisis and opportunity. The wise and ancient Chinese understood that the true nature of a crisis is an opportunity in disguise.

A crisis implies change that has not been invited and an outcome that is not predictable. Rarely do changes come into our life that do not require an significant amount of restructuring and readjustment.

Similar to remodeling a house, you will be required to tear down what needs to be renovated and replace it with stronger materials. This can feel like a crisis when your abilities are tested and you reach that point where you dig deep for the grit to endure the reconstruction.

Grit is what separates successful people from their competition. Grit is not knowing what to do, but doing it anyway. It is endurance, conviction, and pluckiness. It will take you where you want to go when change starts to feel like a crisis.

Here is how to develop grit in times of crisis:

1. Know When To Stop Struggling

There is a difference between knowing when to quit and knowing when to stop the struggle against something that we cannot stop. When we quit, we throw in the towel, admit defeat, and feel like a victim of our circumstances.

If we stop the struggle, we face up to our fear. “What is the worst that could happen?” This is the first step toward detecting new possibilities that may reveal themselves in our circumstances.

How To Make It Work For You: Do not quit when you feel you can no longer deal with a crisis. Instead, find ways to adapt to your new circumstances. Have the grit to stay in the game but be flexible in your attempt to correct a situation according to your idea of “right.”

2. Manage Emotions

When facing a crisis, emotional incontinence is a temptation and we share our sorrows with anyone who will listen. To those who have created our crisis, it’s an admission that they have the power to hurt us. If the people who are listening are outsiders, they are helpless to offer us sound advice on how to move forward.

This doesn’t mean you should ignore and tamp down what you are feeling! Emotional competence is one of the cornerstones of mental toughness. If we are emotionally intelligent and aware of our innermost emotions, we have a much better chance of responding to a crisis in a way that is positive.

How To Make It Work For You: If you manage your emotions, thoughts, and behavior during a crisis, you will have a better chance of recognizing new opportunities as they unfold.

3. Keep Ego In Check

Our ego takes a beating when shit hits the fan and we find ourselves up to our knees in it. No one likes to suffer or face unpleasant situations. They are, however, a fact of life and if we can keep our ego in check, we can come through them stronger.

Everyone knows how to survive in good times. That doesn’t take any talent. It’s the trying times that separate those who have what it takes to succeed from those who just project the image.

How To Make It Work For You: Developing grit is a quality that is essential for our personal growth. We take responsibility for our actions. When we stop whining, pointing fingers, and blaming others—especially during a crisis—we are able to choose our destiny.

4. Maintain Clarity Of Vision

Vision is where you see your life heading. Goals are the stepping stones to get there. Goals should be reviewed and revised on a yearly basis. If you don’t, goals can end up obstructing your original vision for yourself.

Vision and passion are the linchpin of grit. It is doing something and following a dream that gives you both value and meaning.

How To Make It Work For You: When you feel your grit begin to waver, remember the reason you want to accomplish your goal. If you surrender and give up, ask yourself if it’s because there is no fire in your belly and you are not really following your vision.

5. Develop An Entrepreneurial Mindset

Most interviews or studies of entrepreneurs only look at people who have been successful. They rarely focus on asking questions about what made them successful in the first place. It’s very difficult for people to describe themselves at the beginning of their career. Most of us could not remember what was going through our mind, especially if we’re scrambling to keep our company afloat.

In a recent study, researchers interviewed over 800 entrepreneurs who had not been in business for more than 3 months. They found two commonalities in the thinking of the most successful entrepreneurs: 1) they could not come up with reasons they might fail, and 2) they couldn’t care less what people think about them.

How To Make It Work For You: Find something that makes you happy and go for it. At the end of the day, the way you feel about yourself and your potential will give you confidence that you can develop the grit you will need in times of crisis.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

How To Overcome Adversity And Come Out A Winner

Monday, August 7th, 2017

A shetland pony named Socks helped teach me how to overcome adversity. We lived on a cattle ranch in Wyoming and my parents bought him for me when I was 4 years old.

Socks had a hard and dry little heart; all he wanted to do was terrorize his little rider. Dad would get on him and he was a well-mannered horse. When I got on him, however, I couldn’t get him to do anything. Worse yet, when Dad wasn’t looking, Socks would kick up his heels to see how much it would take to buck me off.

As time marched on, I got very worried because Dad said I wouldn’t get a “real” horse until I learned to ride Socks. I worked at it and finally rode Socks down the meadow about half a mile. We had to cross a ditch to go further. Socks turned his neck to get a good look at me before he let loose and bucked high and fast as he crossed the ditch. I went flying through the air.

Dad watched and saw the whole thing. I was humiliated; I cried and walked away but my Dad caught Socks and made me get right back on. Right then and there, not later when I’d plucked up enough courage to get back on and ride Socks again.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, neuroscience tells us that new memories remain unstable for a short period of time after an event. It’s during this unstable period that memories are being coded and consolidated into your subconscious.

We can erase our fear of an event if we can alter our memory of it, and the best time to do that is during the unstable period. That unstable period lasts for the first few hours.

We can learn how to overcome adversity and come out stronger than before if we do these things:

1. Get Back In The Saddle

We have all had experiences with colleagues, employees, or prospective clients that have left us unsettled, afraid, or unsure of how to move forward. We learn how to overcome adversity if we find ways to tackle the problem again so we can update our memory before that negative feeling becomes codified in our brain.

It might be with a different colleague, employee, or client but don’t let the experience of fear or anxiety get embedded into your thinking. It is important, however, that you make sure your environment is safe before trying to extinguish your fear-conditioned memory.

TIP: Replace a bad memory with a better one. The sooner, the better.

2. Grit Up

When I interviewed with the FBI, they liked that I wasn’t coddled, pampered, or entitled. Growing up on a cattle ranch in Wyoming left me scrappy, hungry, and full of grit. Getting bucked off Socks gave me the understanding that getting knocked down is part of life. But it’s those knocks that produce the grit we need to be successful.

Grit is doing what is needed even when you don’t know exactly how to do it. Grit is determination, persistence, and endurance.

Sports psychologist Tim Woodman has done several studies on what makes superior athletes. He spent a lot of time interviewing many top performers, and the one thing that he came away with was this: nearly every top performer in his study had experienced a critical negative event in their life—parents divorcing, a death, disease, or some other perceived loss—and they experienced it early in life.

Winners learn early that life is hard. Pain is inevitable. Growth is optional—LaRae Quy

Hard times create the need for a coping system. Because there is one of two ways to react to the crap that happens in life: you can whine, complain, and blame others. Or, you can take responsibility for your own actions, grit up, and look for solutions.

TIP: Learn to overcome adversity by developing a grit-up attitude. It’s your choice—you can have the mindset that your adversity creates trauma. Or, you can decide to look at your adversity as an opportunity to learn and grow.

3. Express Gratitude

Hunt the good stuff in your situation and express gratitude for what you find because you cannot be anxious and grateful at the same time.

The area of the brain that produces anxiety and fear overlaps with the area of the brain responsible for positive emotions. This is one of the reasons it’s hard to be stressed out and grateful at the same time.

TIP: Use mental toughness to override your fear by focusing on positive emotions so they can tamp down negative ones. When you are mentally strong, you decide how to overcome adversity by choosing which positive emotions to focus on.

4. Acquire Lots Of Information

FBI agents making arrests face the unknown because they can’t predict how an individual will react when arrested. To alleviate the fear they may experience, they collect information in several different ways:

First, they collect information about themselves. They practice arrest scenarios with red handled guns that do not have firing pins. This provides feedback on how they respond to different situations. It allows them to constantly fine-tune their response so they can anticipate a good outcome when confronted by the unknown.

Second, they collect as much information about the person to be arrested as possible. The agents can prepare if they have reason to believe the suspect might be armed and dangerous.

Third, agents qualify in firearms 4 times a year to fine-tune their skills. By the time they actually make an arrest, they have enough muscle memory that they don’t even have to think about what to do because they’ve done it before so many times.

TIP: You’ll have a better chance of coming out a winner if you practice or rehearse your performance ahead of time. It might not be possible to replicate the exact experience, but pay attention to your response in similar situations so you can decide whether or not you need to fine tune it.

5. Visualize Your Success

Visualize how you will overcome adversity. When you visualize your success, your brain releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. That is the chemical that becomes active when you are rewarded or have positive feelings. Dopamine enables you to not only see rewards, but to move toward those rewards as well.

By visualizing your performance, your brain actually stores that information as a success.

There is one important caveat here, though; your brain is not easily fooled. It knows the difference between visualizing your success and fantasizing about something you can never do, like being a rock star on stage. Your brain will only store it as a success if it represents real life and real situations you will encounter.

TIP: Educate yourself about your fear, find out as much as you can, and then practice how you can overcome it.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”