Overcoming leadership stress

May 20, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | 1 Comment

Along with leading a company through these challenging economic times comes stress. Stress from driving sales. Stress from managing expenses. Stress from keeping employees motivated and productive – not getting caught up in the constant barrage of bad economic news. Stress from making more tough decisions and hoping they’re the right ones. Yes, leadership has its privileges, but leadership can also be a pressure cooker if you don’t manage your stress levels.

Stress can wear you down. Not only does it negatively impact your performance as a leader, it takes a toll on your attitude. It saps your ability to think positively. Most of all, it changes your demeanor in ways that you cannot hide from your leadership team, employees and customers. Simply put: if you don’t manage stress, it will manage you.
Here are some no-compromise strategies to keep you positive and focused by keeping stress levels under control:
* Focus on the positive signs of recovery: Every recession has a recovery. It’s easy to get caught up in the gloom and doom of bad times. But this recession is already showing the telltale signs that it has bottomed out. Economists report that April showed a surge in consumer confidence. All it takes is a trickle of good economic news to begin pulling the recovery tide back in.
* Target the next 18 months: The heck with five-year plans – concentrate on where you want your company to be 18 months from now. Simply put: what do you want your company to look like on the other side of this recession? Set short-range goals and strategies to achieve them. You’ll be defining your stepping-stones to growth.
* Lighten up: There’s no better cure for stress than laughter and having some fun. Have a pizza party for lunch or company barbeque. Heck, dress up like a clown. Lead an impromptu company cheer. Take your leadership bowling or to a ball game. No contests here – we want everyone to be winners and laugh a bit.
* Get up and move that body: I go to spin class, lift weights and ride my road bike about 100+ a week. I feel great. It keeps my stress under control and that keeps everyone around me happy.
* Work with a coach: It’s well documented that the best leaders use a coach. A good business coach will keep you sharp, focused and hold you accountable for making progress. You’ll have a sounding board for your ideas and that ever-important outlet when you need to vent. If you don’t have a coach, call me.
* Take time to appreciate your achievements: If you’re in business today, you’re doing something right. Step back and personally acknowledge the things you did well and the things you did right. Don’t give energy to the bad decisions. Doing so fuels stress.
So there you have it. A rather simple collection of diverse no-compromise strategies to overcome the stress that comes with every leadership position. Like everything else, it takes work to keep stress at bay. So, what’s your company going to look like in 18 months?
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO
Along with leading a company through these challenging economic times comes stress. Stress from driving sales. Stress from managing expenses. Stress from keeping employees motivated and productive – not getting caught up in the constant barrage of bad economic news. Stress from making more tough decisions and hoping they’re the right ones. Yes, leadership has its privileges, but leadership can also be a pressure cooker if you don’t manage your stress levels.
Stress can wear you down. Not only does it negatively impact your performance as a leader, it takes a toll on your attitude. It saps your ability to think positively. Most of all, it changes your demeanor in ways that you cannot hide from your leadership team, employees and customers. Simply put: if you don’t manage stress, it will manage you. (more…)
Along with leading a company through these challenging economic times comes stress. Stress from driving sales. Stress from managing expenses. Stress from keeping employees motivated and productive – not getting caught up in the constant barrage of bad economic news. Stress from making more tough decisions and hoping they’re the right ones. Yes, leadership has its privileges, but leadership can also be a pressure cooker if you don’t manage your…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

The wonderful, whacky world of “pitching” the media

May 20, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

As I write this Monday Morning Wake-Up, I’m in New York City attending the National Publicity Summit. This is a venue for authors to receive training on that most worthy of pursuits – getting press coverage in the media. The pre-event coaching concentrated on creating a two and a half minute media pitch. But the real focus of this Summit is to actually deliver your pitch to over 100 media producers and editors over three days. (It’s Friday morning and I’ll be starting day two in about two hours.)
When I say, “pitch over 100 media producers and editors,” here’s what that looks like. Over the three days, there are five “meet the media” sessions each lasting a couple of hours. We get to pre-select which media producers and editors we want to meet with beginning with our number one pick. When a “meet the media” session begins, the authors enter a ballroom where each media is set up with a table and stool. We’re given schedules with our media picks and our numbered slot. When it’s our turn, we get our two and a half minutes to make our pitch, answer questions and, hopefully, get told we will be contacted or to follow up.
Here’s a sampling of the media I pitched on my first day: “The Today Show,” “ABC News,” “Fortune Small Business,” “Good Morning America,” “Now” on PBS, plus writers for Entrepreneur, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, business radio shows and more.
Now, I’ve gotten myself into some pretty interesting situations over my career, but doing the equivalent of speed dating with the major media sent my stress level soaring and my nerves in hyper drive. In fact, every author in the house fumbled through their first few pitches like kids auditioning for a part in the school play. But we all quickly calmed down and got into our groove.
There are two lessons I want to share from this experience. First, the only way we can grow and reach our full potential is to place ourselves in situations that make us stretch and challenge our abilities. This was one of those experiences that truly pushed me forward.
The second lesson is the hit list the media gave us for getting their attention. Here are the key points:
* Get to the point: The media receives thousands of email pitches a day. Picture yourself on deadline and your email box overflowing with mail. You blow through the list looking for nuggets of gold – with your finger on the “delete” button. Multi-paragraph pitches that ramble get deleted. The subject line is your story pitch line – make it sell your story. Keep your story pitch to one paragraph consisting of three or four sentences. No attachments of any kind if you want your email to make it past the spam filters.
* Be relevant to current events: The better you tie your pitch to current events the more likely your story will be noticed. The media game is all about getting a story that no one else has – getting the scoop. That sells advertising.
* Study the media you’re pitching: Every TV show, newspaper, radio and magazine has it’s own style. Study the media you’re pitching and try to match your pitch to their style of reporting. Remember, the producer or reporter has their finger on the delete button.
* Be persistent – but not annoying: None of the media really clarified what this means, but suffice it to say that if you’re emailing and calling a producer or reporter a lot, you’ll get tagged as spam or simply ignored. All gave examples of stories that were eventually done simply because the pitch hit at the right time. Use good judgment.
I attended the National Publicity Summit with my publisher. The first evening he warned me that I will likely meet authors “who speak to the dead.” Yeah, sure. First evening I met a criminal attorney that was a medium. Later, I met an author who said, “My book was written by my dead husband.” Who wants to listen to such stuff? Well, the next morning while watching “The Today Show,” they had a guest who talked to the dead relatives of four people from the audience.
Gotta go pitch “The Early Show” and Time magazine.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

As I write this Monday Morning Wake-Up, I’m in New York City attending the National Publicity Summit. This is a venue for authors to receive training on that most worthy of pursuits – getting press coverage in the media. The pre-event coaching concentrated on creating a two and a half minute media pitch. But the real focus of this Summit is to actually deliver your pitch to over 100 media producers and editors over three days. (It’s Friday morning and I’ll be starting day two in about two hours.)... Read More

As I write this Monday Morning Wake-Up, I’m in New York City attending the National Publicity Summit. This is a venue for authors to receive training on that most worthy of pursuits – getting press coverage in the media. The pre-event coaching concentrated on creating a two and a half minute media pitch. But the real focus of this Summit is to actually deliver your pitch to over 100 media…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

No-compromise decisions are the toughest for a reason

May 20, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Leaders make decisions all day long. It’s simply a requirement of the job. Much of that decision-making occurs naturally and continuously without skipping a beat. But as all leaders know, there are those decisions where all of the options are less then desirable – or downright gut wrenching. Decisions in this category are best described as solving a dilemma rather than a problem. Problems have solutions. Dilemmas present a murky roadmap where all paths lead to uncertain outcomes – or the carrying out of necessary but unpopular plans.

The worst thing a leader can do is label a dilemma as a problem and pull the trigger before understanding all of the potential hazards. Even worse is to avoid pushing for an innovative solution and allowing the dilemma to drone on. This is the turbulent territory where leaders earn their no-compromise stripes. No matter how painful, stressful or unpopular, a decision must be made. As a leader, it’s your job. No compromise.
Here are some no-compromise strategies to navigate your way through those tough decisions:
* Understand what delaying a decision does to you: The longer you delay a tough decision, the heavier the weight you carry. You must respect your own wellbeing by taking action rather then delaying it. That means innovating the best solution must become a top priority for you and your team. Procrastinating fuels stress.
* Your demeanor is always communicating: When stress levels soar, your demeanor becomes vividly apparent to those around you. You become unapproachable, irritable and short. Your business now has both a dilemma and a stressed-out leader. Eventually your reluctance to make a decision will add more drag to a situation that could or has already gone critical. It’s time to engage and lead. Just as exercise reduces stress, so does making those tough decisions.
* You can’t please everyone: Tough decisions always have supporters and naysayers. Try as you might, tough decisions will rarely please everyone. And the more you try to please everyone, the more watered down and impotent your decision will be. Keep tough decisions tough.
* Communicate with extreme clarity: Tough decisions need to be hi-definition clear to everyone. Communicate your reasoning, potential outcomes and the possible hazards. Clarify your expectations and hold yourself and your team accountable to produce the right outcomes.
* Not as tough as you thought: By going no compromise with tough decision-making, you will likely discover that working through tough decisions isn’t so tough after all. It’s the procrastination and obsessing that makes them tough.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

Leaders make decisions all day long. It’s simply a requirement of the job. Much of that decision-making occurs naturally and continuously without skipping a beat. But as all leaders know, there are those decisions where all of the options are less then desirable – or downright gut wrenching. Decisions in this category are best described as solving a dilemma rather than a problem. Problems have solutions. Dilemmas present a murky roadmap where all paths lead to uncertain outcomes – or the carrying out of necessary but unpopular plans.... Read More

Leaders make decisions all day long. It’s simply a requirement of the job. Much of that decision-making occurs naturally and continuously without skipping a beat. But as all leaders know, there are those decisions where all of the options are less then desirable – or downright gut wrenching. Decisions in this category are best described as solving a dilemma rather than a problem. Problems have solutions. Dilemmas present a murky…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

When great performance masks compromise

May 20, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

During a seminar on staff retention, the discussion focused on how to address performance and/or behavior issues with top employees. I could quickly see everyone’s discomfort meter red lining because all leaders have a tendency to take the easier compromise route than seek no-compromise solutions. The reason for the discomfort meter red lining is the fear that a top employee may quit if pushed to follow the same rules and standards other employees must adhere to. It’s even more difficult when personal relationships come into play.
The challenge is simple: a “top employee” means that he or she truly excels in his or her area of responsibility and contribution to the company. But what happens if some seemingly minor performance or behavior issues surface and tend to linger? During the discussion, one leader said, “I have an employee who is simply stellar – but is habitually late for work.” In this case, the top performer was a major revenue producer. After discussing the “stellar” employee’s lateness and why it needs to be addressed, the leader reluctantly added, “This stellar employee is our general manager – and she’s taking care of our dog while we’re gone.” So, we have a “stellar” employee who is a top producer, the general manager and has become a personal friend. These facts certainly grease the skids for compromise.
Here are some no-compromise strategies to address double-standard behaviors with top employees:
* Own your role in allowing “entitlement” behavior: Yes, there was a point when the issues in question could have been addressed – but weren’t. You allowed it to continue and now you’re the only one that can fix it. This is not all your “stellar” employee’s fault. This instantly removes the “blame game” from the conversation.
* Level the playing field: Your “stellar” employee fully realizes that he or she has been practicing entitlement behavior. Since top employees are typically mentors or role models for others, they also fully realize they have been enjoying a double standard at the expense of their fellow teammates. As leader, you must engage their support to level the playing field. Loyal employees, most likely with some coaching, will support you. If not, do they really belong on your team? Have they ever belonged on your team?
* Accountability and clarifying expectations: When leveling the playing field, you must clarify in detail your expectations. Your top employees must understand what they must change, what they must do, how you will support them – and how you will hold them accountable. Most of all, they must understand the consequences for not rising to the challenge. Yes, something as elementary as a leader afflicted with chronic lateness should know that continuing to be late could result in a demotion. Continued behavior issues could also be grounds for termination. Heck, if a “stellar” employee in a leadership role is willing to lose her job because she cannot get to work on time, grant her wish.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

During a seminar on staff retention, the discussion focused on how to address performance and/or behavior issues with top employees. I could quickly see everyone’s discomfort meter red lining because all leaders have a tendency to take the easier compromise route than seek no-compromise solutions. The reason for the discomfort meter red lining is the fear that a top employee may quit if pushed to follow the same rules and standards other employees must adhere to. It’s even more difficult when personal relationships come into play.... Read More

During a seminar on staff retention, the discussion focused on how to address performance and/or behavior issues with top employees. I could quickly see everyone’s discomfort meter red lining because all leaders have a tendency to take the easier compromise route than seek no-compromise solutions. The reason for the discomfort meter red lining is the fear that a top employee may quit if pushed to follow the same rules and…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Are double standards… your standard?

May 19, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Double standards communicate that there are “entitlement” rules and acceptable behaviors for some while others must adhere to more rigid rules. Fact: Double standards compromise the values of a company. Double standards create performance drag and contaminate the culture of a company. Most importantly, even the slightest existence of double standards perpetuates entitlement thinking and behavior. And who is the originating source of double standards? You guessed it, the leader – and that means you.

Double standards for leaders: This is the classic “do as I say, not as I do” thinking. It’s when leaders use their positions of power to compromise what they hold others accountable for doing. For example, consider how the integrity and trust of a company can be compromised when the leader orders expense reductions and pulls up in a new company car or takes a vacation cleverly disguised as a business trip. Even seemingly little behaviors like always being late for meetings while others are held accountable can contaminate a company culture. (more…)... Read More

Double standards communicate that there are “entitlement” rules and acceptable behaviors for some while others must adhere to more rigid rules. Fact: Double standards compromise the values of a company. Double standards create performance drag and contaminate the culture of a company. Most importantly, even the slightest existence of double standards perpetuates entitlement thinking and behavior. And who is the originating source of double standards? You guessed it, the leader…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

X

Get your free coaching call now!

X

Need help with choosing a membership?
Fill out this form!

X
X