Ep #16: How Being in Crisis Mode is Turning Managers into High Performance Leaders
You might have noticed that you're being a lot more productive at work these days. Even your breaks are more productive. You are willing to take an entire day off simply because you know that you need that fuel to recharge for the next day of work. These are all signs that you are becoming a high performance leader.
But you are likely moving so fast right now that it's difficult to know what you are learning. Yes a crisis of this kind has not happened before in our lifetime but that doesn't mean we can't learn from the exceptional leaders that have paved the crisis management path before us.
In today's episode, I am sharing with you the nine high performance traits that I have observed from managers over these past few weeks. These are the same tools that high performance leaders rely upon during major restructuring, financial downturns, acquisitions, lay offs or times of uncertainty. And you can use them too.
The biggest career jumps happen during times of crisis and I want to make sure you are one of the managers who make the leap.
What You'll Learn:
- Why some managers are maximizing their performance right now when others can't see the forest through the trees.
- The nine characteristics exhibited by high performers and how you can apply them too
- Why many of these traits are happening effortlessly for you right now already
- How to maintain your sanity and avoid burnout as you start to take on higher levels of responsibility
- What you can do to ensure that you don't get left behind once the dust settles
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
- Listen to Ep #15: How Being in Crisis Mode is Helping Managers Get Out of the Weeds
- The 1 Thing
- High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard
- The Energy Project
- Sign up for my email list to be the first to know about my upcoming webinar "How the biggest career jumps are made during times of crisis"
Hello. Welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer. I'm really excited to be here with you this evening. I'm coming to you from my Honda Odyssey. I'm trying a new podcast setup. It's hard to find places to hide from the kids these days to record the podcast. And I've been doing it at like 12 o'clock at night at midnight, and so tonight, I wanted to try something different.
We did have deer in our backyard last night. So hopefully, they do not join us for the podcast today. I hope you guys are doing well and hanging in there.
As we get started today, I just want to say you guys are doing more than just hanging in there. And I am so impressed by the leaders in my community that are really taking this opportunity to say yes to the leadership positions that they're being called to do. To the levels of responsibility and the amount of strategic action that it's taking for them to make it to that next level and to really just start making that level of impact right now. And that's actually what has inspired these couple of podcast episodes that I'm giving to you.
So last week, I talked about how the crisis is actually helping managers get out of the weeds. Something that they have known for a long time but now being in crisis mode, it's actually showing them that it's no longer possible to do everything themselves, which is literally a requirement of executive leadership. They can't do it all themselves.
But it's very difficult for mid-level or senior director level managers to really do that very purposefully. So something like a crisis is the first thing that can help you let go of the things that aren't so important. Before I get into today's topic which is all about how this crisis is showing managers how to be high-performance leaders, I want to just recognize one of my clients that I am super proud of.
And I can paint the picture for you of exactly how he is being called into that next level of leadership and why he is able to be so successful right now. So a few months ago, he had a particular project that was very high profile with the leadership team. It was a very important initiative. It was an overall company-wide initiative. It was actually an emergency, a crisis in of itself at the time for the organization. And he was very interested in not only being a part of that conversation, but he had an expertise in his actual job. He had a reason and he had input that he could add to the leadership team. So I coached him at the time to how he could be a part of those conversations.
And this wasn't easy. It wasn't hard for him to be a part of the conversations, but he was already overworked. He was already working 60 hours a week. He already had a 200-person team that he was managing. So he didn't have a lot of extra time to really take on this other project but it was so inspiring to him. He knew that it was more impactful than even the work that he was doing with the 200 people underneath them. And so he really wanted to take a stab at it, to get in front of leadership, to actually be one of the decision-makers in this particular initiative. And so I coached him through that process, and that was sort of happening all along.
And then now, we have this crisis, this crisis that we're in the middle of right now, with the coronavirus and all of the changes that this means to organizations, and he is one of the first people that the leadership team called on to actually lead the charge to get his organization through this crisis.
Why is that? Because he had already proven that he was willing-- not only willing to go to bat for the organization to begin with, but that he had strong ideas, he knew what needed to happen in that particular case several months ago. So it was a no-brainer to bring him into the leadership meetings now in this particular crisis, even though it's a slightly different subject matter. And they have given him another manager so that she has taken away some of the responsibility. So now he can focus all of his energy on the crisis mode. And now, of course, he's still working 60-hour weeks, but the thing is is that his work is very impactful. He knows he is making a difference. He knows his opinion and his voice matters. And the leadership team respects him for that. They're asking for his opinion.
And the only reason he is able to do that now is because he built that trust up before. So that is what I am calling all of you to do-- is how can you start to build that trust up at that higher leadership level. And it doesn't come from doing all the things. It doesn't even come from putting in 60-hour workweeks. It comes from thinking like a visionary. For having a strategic vision for your team.
And I'm going to show you-- I think there's nine traits that I came up with that I think that my clients are doing almost without thinking right now that are high performance leadership traits that are helping my clients start to make that impact to be able to let go of all the things that they shouldn't be doing and focus on what's most important for the organization and what is actually going to push the needle forward and not only help their own careers thrive but help the organization thrive as we come out of this crisis-- whenever we come out of this crisis, and however we come out of this crisis.
Because it doesn't matter if the organization looks the same way six months from now because what they have proven is that they can handle any crisis. That they can lead through change. And being a leader that can lead through change is an immensely valuable asset to your organization. And it feels great. It feels great to be needed. It feels great to be valued. It feels great to have your work matter.
Now, before I get into the details of the nine traits of a high-performance leader, I first want to point out that not all extraordinary leaders are high performers. This is a particular subset of leadership. You don't have to be a high-performance leader necessarily to be an extraordinary leader. But I think that a lot of people actually enjoy being high-performance. And by high-performance, I mean similar to that elite athlete. They actually want to win the races. If you're the type of person that is drawn into these higher-level executive leadership positions.
It is because part of you has achiever as one of your top five strengths; part of you actually wants to go for the gold medal. And that is also why you need resources like coaching and leadership, resources, mentors, a strong network of support because it's nearly impossible to do this all on your own. That is one thing that-- that is one thing that is helping these leaders get out of the weeds that I talked about in the last episode is because they realize they need so much support at that high-performance level.
So today's episode all about high-performance trades and what the crisis is actually showing my managers about themselves. It's actually pulling these high-performance traits that were probably there all the long, but it's giving them the opportunity to actually step up and to really make that larger level of impact.
So the first one that I want to talk about is productivity. Now, this is really interesting, and I might get some pushback for this. But a lot of people who get stuck in the senior-management level and that middle-management level, and they can't make it into a higher-level leadership position. It's because they don't understand how to be fully productive. They are too much of a perfectionist. And if you actually ask yourself, "How can I do this 80%; literally do that with everything?" So if it's something that you don't enjoy doing, you could say, "How can I do this 80%?" Which means you might actually do it a little bit better than what you're doing. Or if it's something that you're a real perfectionist on, and you're trying to do it 120%, actually ask yourself, "How can I do this 80% instead of 120%?" You will notice your productivity rates go through the roof. So this is what is actually happening for people during the crisis. They're noticing that they have to be 80%. They can't be 120% right now, and they're noticing that it's okay. And being okay with that and really understanding why it's actually a benefit to work at that 80% level, meaning that you really step up to the plate for some things, and you do it; you work even harder. And then for some things, you pull back a little bit is such a valuable, valuable skill.
The next one is focus. High-Performance leaders are extremely focused and one of the ways that they do that is by understanding, how to be that visionary leader? How to be that strategic thinker? And how to really think, according to-- so I spoke just a minute ago about how can I do things that 80%. And now I'm going to talk a little bit different about how can I choose the 20%? What are those 20%, those things that will get me the biggest return for my investment? So that's the focus. There's a whole body of research about the one thing, and it's like the domino effect. And I'll actually link to the one thing on my podcast notes as well. But there is one thing that I could do that will have a ripple effect and make everything else easier or necessary. So they're able to ask themselves that question on a regular basis. What is the one thing that I need to be focused on right now? And they get that done. And that also leads to greater levels of productivity. And that is an exceptional leader.
This is also what people are saying right now during the crisis because they don't have the energy and the time to do everything. So they have to focus on that one thing, that most important thing and get super-clear.
The next one is that they're decision-makers. Now, Brendon Burchard talks about this, that high-performance leaders actually seek clarity. They don't wait for clarity. They seek it. They understand it. They know how to go out and find it. That is what I'm talking about as far as decision-makers. They're not appointed to be a decision-maker. They go out and seek the decisions that they can make. And they make decisions fast. They're extremely focused. And they use that high level of productivity to make really strong decisions. They don't stay in indecision for a long time. If you have noticed that your career has felt flat for a while now, ask yourself, "What are the decisions that I'm not making about my career? What are the conversations that I'm not having, that I've been mulling over for a while, that I have been thinking about? What is the support that I've been talking about going out and getting but I haven't actually done anything about it?"
So high-performance leaders don't spend a lot of time on indecision. They make a decision. And they roll with it. This also leads to later when I'm talking about demonstrating courage. They don't make decisions based on the idea of whether or not it will succeed. They just make the decision based on the information that they have and the ability to make good, strong decisions quickly. Now, that is probably something that you're being called to do during this crisis because we don't have time. What we used to take a month to do, now we have a day to act on it. So you're being called to make very quick, very fast decisions. And you're probably noticing that it's turning out okay. And in a lot of instances, it's turning out better than okay.
The next one is that they're very discerning. They know when to include others and when not to include others. One of the things that I've been hearing from several women, especially female managers, is that they miss having face-time because they feel like they can talk to people when they pass them in the hallway. They feel like they're more included in the conversation when they're just being passed in the hallway. And now that we're on Zoom and they're actually being forced to interject themselves, it feels very uncomfortable. So high-performance leaders, they actually know that there is someone on their team that is not being included. And so they know when to include that person. They actually go and seek that manager out.
So yes, this is on their part to learn how to speak up more and to be included as part of the conversation. But it's also on the part of the manager to be very discerning and to actually say, "Okay. Is this something that I need to pull Nicky into the conversation? Or is it just a decision that needs to be made right now?" And so knowing how to navigate that and making sure that everybody feels included but not so included that it's just dragging out decisions and making everything take longer-- because we don't have time right now.
The next one is that they're very deliberate. So when they do make a decision, when they have a call to action, when they're telling you something to do for your team, you know what it is, you know when they need it by, and you know how to respond to it. That is because your leader is being extremely deliberate. There's no time to waste. There's no time to see if the manager, the other people on your team figure it out because you have to be a high-performance leader. You have to actually tell people very directly, very deliberately exactly what's expected of them and by when.
The next one is that they're very resourceful. Isn't it amazing how you can come up with ideas on your own when you're forced to do it? Now, I know this sounds funny but it's so incredible how so many managers have this inability to figure things out on their own. They wait and they ask their boss. They have to ask 10 different people. But when shit hits the fan, they actually have to be resourceful. They have to figure it out themselves. They have to do the research. They have to make a decision. They have to go out and find the answers and ask very deliberate questions. That is a skill of a high-performance leader.
The next one is that they know how to maintain their energy. So this actually inspired this particular podcast episode because this is the work of The Energy Project and the thing that I want to share with you right here is you probably noticed during the first couple of weeks of the crisis that you felt very, very burned out. That everything felt overwhelming. You had way too many things on your plate. You didn't know how to weave through it all. And you're working too many hours and you didn't know most importantly how to recharge. So the concept in The Energy Project is that most of us live our lives in the middle zone. So we work kind of hard and we recharge kind of okay. So what I mean by that is let's look at the opposite ends of the spectrum. A high-performance athlete, somebody who's going to be an Olympic swimmer say, they have to work really, really, really, really hard very intensely in short bursts. And then, they completely shut down. They put on their headphones. They wrap themselves in a towel, they sit in a sauna I guess, I don't know, something like that. But they completely remove themselves from society.
So if you could see a line in front of you, they're opposite ends of the spectrum. Well, most of us actually perform in the middle part. So that's what we're used to. We're used to recharging in that way. So we put out very little effort and then we sort of recharge just by getting a good night's sleep or having a glass of wine at the end of the night or watching one Netflix show or something like that. Just something to sort of come down, actually literally refuel the gas tank so that the next day we can do it all again. Well, high-performance leaders actually know the extreme of recharging. So one of the really cool things is that I've been told by several different managers that they are taking naps in the middle of the day or they're taking a whole day off work, like in the middle of all this craziness, they're taking whole day Friday off. They're completely offline. And that is because the only way that they can maintain their energy levels is to just shut down completely.
Another way that you could recharge is through exercise or through mediation or through going for a walk. There are lots of different ways that we can recharge our brain and come back and work at those high peak performance levels. So The Energy Project has a whole wealth of information out there about how to do this, about how to work at those peak performance levels and really recharge in a way that fuels you to do your best work. But it's something that high-performance leaders know how to do. And instinctually, you know how to do it now too because you literally are crashing probably sometimes. But I want to encourage you to do that more purposefully.
And the last trait is that they demonstrate courage. This is actually an active thing that people do and if you are one of the people that have been asked to step up, to asked to be in these higher-level leadership meetings, it's not enough to just show up for the meeting. You actually have to raise your hand. You actually have to be a part of the conversation. If you're not called on to speak at the meeting for whatever reason, you have to follow-up with your boss. Go set up an appointment with the CEO. Have a conversation with somebody about what you learned about the meeting, what you thought at the meeting, what your ideas were that come from that meeting. This is not an easy thing to do. This requires courage. You're putting yourself out there in a bigger and bolder way.
But just like the energy spectrum, when you put yourself out there in that bigger bolder way, the return is so, so much greater. You actually feel better. You don't mind working at 8 o'clock at night. You enjoy the work that you're doing because it actually matters. Because you're truly making a difference.
So I'd like to encourage all of you to just embrace if any one of these nine high-performance leadership traits have been showing up for you at work, really embrace them. Know that this is actually a really great thing that you can hold on to for many, many years to come. I bet you probably have 20, 25, 30 years left in your career. So these high-performance traits could become a part of your leadership style.
So first, I just want to acknowledge you. I know that you're working your tail off and I just want to make sure that you're able to get rewarded, to get the recognition that your deserve, and to really know why you're able to make that high-level of impact now so that we could keep doing it long into the future. Thank you so much for being with me today and I'll see you next week. Bye.
About Your Host
Hi, I’m Stacy Mayer, a Leadership Coach for emerging executives who are ready to take their career to the next level or seeking more fulfillment in their current organizational roles.
I help corporate managers reposition themselves to advance their careers, build confidence in their ability to solve problems in real-time, and step into their higher leadership potential so they can make a bigger impact in their organizations.
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