Why people resent your help [new post]

Helping others succeed in their jobs requires more than generosity. You need to understand what matters to them. For example, have you ever started counseling a direct report about his career and then noticed that he wanted to bolt the room? Or given a peer resources for her big project, then found yourself on the receiving end of a stiff arm?

That’s not fun. Surely, there is better way to give people the help they actually want. What is it?

The Case of the Runny Nose

I got a clue to this mystery a few months ago with my then four-year-old son. His nose was running, but he wasn’t doing anything about it. Like a good parent, I grabbed a Kleenex and gently wiped his nose. Easy peasy, right?

Not according to my son.

“Daddy, I want my mucus back.”

Ugh.

“It’s in the tissue.” I opened it up to show him.

“No, Daddy. I want my mucus back in my nose!”

That’s a new one, I thought. How do you get mucus back in the nose? I starting racking my brain for possible methods.

“Daddy you are stupid!”

Could you simmer down? I’m trying to figure out a way to defeat gravity and reverse your body’s natural physiological processes?

“Daddy why are you so stupid?

“Look, Z, I know you’re upset. Give me a minute.” Doesn’t he know that I’m working hard on his original request? I don’t have time for new questions. Plus, I haven’t yet figured out why I am so stupid.

“Daddy why are you a butt face?”

“Z, you know that in our family that’s not how we talk about people.” This isn’t going well. And I’ve lost my train of thought.

“Daddy I don’t like you.”

No good deed goes unpunished. 

I grabbed the Kleenex, marched into the kitchen, and threw it into the trash can.

Surely there is a better way to give people the help they want.

My mistake in this situation (one of many) was to wipe my son’s nose without first asking him. I acted physically without first making an offer. My son had no opportunity to signal whether or not he wanted my help. Because I didn’t make an offer, he had no freedom to accept my offer, decline it, or make a counteroffer (“Hand me the tissue. I’ll wipe it myself”). He experienced me as acting on him unilaterally rather than with him in a spirit of mutuality.

Lessons

I was reminded of five principles of helping people through offers.
  1. People like to choose whether or not to receive help.
  2. Making an offer gives them an opportunity to choose.
  3. To make an offer powerful, ground it in what matters to them—something they actually want or care about.
  4. There is no promise without an acceptance. Offer + Acceptance = Promise
  5. The other person has four legitimate ways to respond to your offer: accept, decline, counteroffer (a different What and/or When), and promise to reply later.

So the next time you are tempted to counsel someone about their career—or wipe their nose—ask yourself: what is a powerful offer I could make right now, and do I think they will be open to it?

The Five Reasons You Became A Manager [New Post]

There are five reasons you became a manager.

The first reason is that you’d rather be a boss than have a boss. More power!

Exactly seven minutes after your promotion, you get a call from the person who hired you for the new job. The one who wooed you. This person, you realize, is your new boss. Part of your job is to keep this person happy. That will take real effort.

There is an exception: when your new boss is the same as your old boss. Whatever you did before to keep her happy, you can keep doing. Easy peasy.

Alas, either way, you don’t get what you wanted: freedom from a boss.

The second reason you became a manager was to get a bigger office. Bigger offices are nice because they create more distance between you and your boss—either your new boss or your old boss with the new title. Space is freedom, so it feels great.

Exactly seven minutes after you move into your new office, you realize that the room is full of people who want things from you. It’s a bigger office, so there are more people.

So you bring in bookcases (even though you don’t have time to read) and file cabinets (even though all your files are electronic). These protect you from people who want things from you.

Unfortunately, when people who want things from you can’t find you—or need to lift heavy bookcases and file cabinets to see you—they become unhappy. Your engagement scores plummet. This makes your boss—either your new boss or the old boss with the new title—very anxious.

The third reason you became a manager was to increase your influence. Instead of looking up at other managers, you get to call many of them your peers. And by persuading them, you indirectly impact all of the people who report to them. The other good news: directors and vice presidents now want to talk with you.

Exactly seven minutes after feeling excited about this, you realize that your calendar is now filled with back-to-back meetings. These may be great opportunities to influence people, but you won’t have time to prepare for them. So it dawns on you that the purpose of these meetings is actually for other people to influence you.

The fourth reason you became a manager was to impress your friends, family, and the three high school classmates you bump into over the holidays.

Exactly seven minutes after telling them about your promotion, they ask you what you do as a manager, and you realize that you don’t know how to answer. You’ve spent all of your time so far figuring out how to make your new boss happy, filling your bigger office with furniture, and going to meetings that you haven’t had time to manage.

So you tell them that your new job positions you really well for the promotion to director.

The fifth and least conscious reason you became a manager was to get things done through others rather than yourself. You hear about this strange explanation 18 months after your promotion during your second performance review with your boss—either the new boss, the old boss with the new title, or the brand new boss who replaced the first new boss because the first new boss was trying to get everything done herself.

By the end of the performance review, you finally get it. Getting things done through others rather than yourself is what managing is all about. Of course!

You are so excited to figure this out that you give your boss a big warm hug and announce that you are now ready to give yourself fully to the organization, just as soon as you switch back to being an individual contributor.

***********************************************************************************

If you know anyone who is a manager, was a manager, or would like to become a manager, think hard for 10 seconds before forwarding this to them.

Episode 46: Barrett C. Brown On Leadership For Conscious Capitalism [The Amiel Show]

This week, Barrett C. Brown joins me to talk about the connection between two topics near to my heart: leadership and conscious capitalism.

I invited Barrett for this conversation because he has been working in the field of sustainability for two decades and is an international expert on leadership development and vertical learning.

He brings a calm wisdom and peaceful passion to a topic of epic proportions.

Listen in and share with your friends.

Barrett C Brown_6649_220

Highlights

  • 7:00 Developing inner capacities is the leading edge for sustainability
  • 13:00 Whispers from the future
  • 20:00 The power of vertical learning
  • 33:00 Highly conscious leaders are different from Level 5 leaders
  • 43:30 Later stage leaders who eject themselves from organizations–or reengage in new ways
  • 49:00 What kind of narrative are you choosing to create?
  • 51:30 Barrett’s practices: meditation, action inquiry and Bulletproof Coffee!

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“Leaders who are calm amidst change & ambiguity end up being more effective”

–Barrett C. Brown  Tweet this quote

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Episode 43: Steve Drotter On Managing Managers & The Leadership Pipeline [The Amiel Show]

We talk a lot on the podcast about stages of development within adults–why they matter and what you find while transitioning to a new stage.

But what about levels within organizations? What new capacities does each call for? What happens when you’re not doing the work of that level–or haven’t developed the inner and outer capacities to do it well?

To explore these questions, I turned to one of the world’s top experts on succession planning: Steve Drotter. When I say “top,” I mean it. Steve has advised half of the Fortune 10 on CEO succession and decades ago helped build GE’s famous succession planning machine.

And then he wrote a book with Ram Charan.

In 2001, Steve partnered with Charan and Jim Noel on The Leadership Pipeline.  It filled a massive void in succession planning by defining six key leadership passages in organizations. And it sold hundreds of thousands of copies.

But that’s not all. In 2011, Steve wrote The Performance Pipeline, which identifies the work to be done at each level of leadership.

Recently, Steve and I chatted for an hour about these two books and how they are reshaping our view of leadership and organizational success. We explore:

  • How is managing managers dramatically different from managing individual contributors?
  • Why do function managers often feel like they aren’t accomplishing much?
  • What makes it important for business managers to bring together multifunctional teams?
  • Why is being a group manager less fun than you might think?
  • What are CEOs truly responsible for?

Leadership PipelineSteve DrotterPerformance Pipeline

Highlights

  • 8:00 Steve’s work with John Reed at Citibank on succession planning
  • 12:30  Your first job out of school—learning time discipline and adopting company values
  • 15:30 #1: First line manager = 100% change in the work requirements
  • 18:00 #2: Manager of managers, another major transition
  • 32:00 The first question to ask when work isn’t getting done (as manager of managers)
  • 33:00 #3: Function manager—the first strategic layer
  • 42:15 #4: Business manager—ask how the business makes money
  • 43:45 #5: Group manager—connect all the businesses to the enterprise
  • 47:00 #6: CEO—setting enterprise direction, attending to culture
  • 54:30 The sweet spot with the pipeline model: $100M-$5B companies
  • 57:00 Coaching leaders using the pipeline framework
  • 1:04:00 Steve’s transition from top HR executive to external consultant

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“I can name ten Fortune 100 companies without high enough expectations for managers of managers”

–Stephen Drotter  Tweet this quote

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Episode 39: Elizabeth Doty On Making Only Promises You Can Keep [The Amiel Show]

Elizabeth Doty is on a mission to focus leaders on their most critical commitments. In Episode 39 of the podcast, this seasoned consultant, author, and frequent contributor to Strategy + Business joins me to ask:

  • What if we were to take our commitments to each other so seriously that we made only the ones we knew we could keep?
  • What if companies recognized that the reliability of their promises to customers and society was central to their success?
  • What if teams stopped waiting around for new leaders to define direction and instead said, “Here’s a proposal for the next three months. Can you support this?”

I think you’ll get great value from this invigorating, high impact conversation. Please share with your friends!

EDarch02_390_450_forHBS

Highlights

  • 5:00 “The company made me a liar.”
  • 7:20 When businesses drift from their promises
  • 13:30 Why scapegoating CEOs or “rogue employees” doesn’t improve outcomes
  • 16:30 Creating shared maps of different parts of the system
  • 18:00 The peril of new leaders ignoring existing commitments
  • 27:00 The measurable benefits of companies keeping commitments
  • 33:00 A “no harm” diamond company commits to a simple rule
  • 41:00 What teams can do during leadership changes instead of waiting for direction
  • 46:30 Why keeping your head down is risky
  • 48:00 The power of “irrational generosity” during downward spirals
  • 52:30 A hopeful story about promises, money, and career trajectories

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There is an art in crafting commitments and being clear what we’re committing to.

–Elizabeth Doty   Tweet this quote

A recipe for stalling: change your leaders often or put your strategy into question.

–Elizabeth Doty   Tweet this quote

Explore Additional Resources

Liberating structures, a concept introduced by Bill Torbert
Strategy maps—articles by Robert Kaplan and David Norton in Strategic Finance and HBR

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Episode 37: Susanne Cook-Greuter On Leadership Maturity, Part 2 [The Amiel Show]

In Part 1 of my interview with Dr. Susanne Cook-Greuter, she gave an overview of the stages of adult development and what they mean for our capacity to handle life’s complexity.

This week, in Part 2, we explore how her model of Leadership Maturity reframes two everyday leadership challenges:

  • How do you approach your job or career?
  • What is it like to be in a pivotal or difficult conversation?

Susanne pic

Highlights

  • 6:00 How three conventional stages of adult development (Socialized Self, Specialist Self, and Independent Self) experience work and career
  • 20:30 Why people at the Relative stage often step outside of the rat race
  • 27:00 At the Interdependent stage, you make sense of historical patterns and construct integrated strategies
  • 31:00 Susanne and I disagree about membership criteria for the Denial of Death club
  • 32:30 How development stages approach pivotal conversations differently
  • 34:00 Why someone may interpret even the most skillful feedback as disapproval of him
  • 44:00 Helping leaders at the Independent stage see how they are not fully responsible when something goes awry
  • 45:30 At the Relative stage, you realize what you can gain by understanding others’ perspectives
  • 48:00 Why Millennials may seek out difference as part of conforming to the emerging culture’s norms
  • 50:00 When paradox becomes the norm–and then the main source of juice

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The depth and capacity of what a person can notice can expand throughout life.

–Susanne Cook-Greuter  Tweet this quote

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Subscribe to the Show on iTunes (It’s Easy!)

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