Over the last decade, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege to meet a variety of amazing leadership experts. One of these experts is Liz Weber, who I met on Twitter in 2011. We recently had a discussion about leadership, and highlights follow below Liz's bio.
Liz was named a Top HR Influencer to Watch in 2020 by both BambooHR and HR Exchange Network, and was included in Engagedly’s Top 100 HR Influencers of 2020. She provides strategic and succession planning, executive coaching, and leadership development programs to leadership teams and boards of directors. She is one of fewer than 100 people in the U.S. to hold the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) and Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designations; the highest earned designations in two different professions. Liz has consulted in over 20 countries, supervised business activities in 129 countries, and has written nine books.
QUESTION: Back in 2011, I was inspired by your book “Something Needs to Change Around Here: The Five Stages to Leveraging Your Leadership.” My take-away nearly ten years ago - and still recalled today due to its relevancy - was this quote: “Being a manager or a leader is a privilege. It’s an honor to have others respect your abilities enough to allow you to lead them. It’s an honor to have others trust you to guide them and support them as you work together.” What does this quote mean to you today?
LIZ WEBER: It's still a privilege and an honor to manage or lead others. However, that privilege doesn't mean you automatically have their respect. Now more than ever, simply having the title isn't enough. And it shouldn't be enough. Now our team members expect us to have the expertise to have earned and to hold the job and title. They expect us to not just 'show up' but to 'be there' and focus on them, their pressures, needs, and roadblocks, and anticipate what's coming next so we can clear a path for them. Now more than ever, our teams expect more of us, and they should.
SHARE ON TWITTER: Now, more than ever, our teams expect more of us (leaders), and they should. ~@LizWeberCMC #Leadership #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding
QUESTION: What three traits define a good leader?
LIZ WEBER: There are many, but the immediate three I think of given the times we're in are:
(1) Can articulate and maintain a clear purpose.
(2) Focuses on and strengthens the team.
(3) Refines the path forward.
To clarify further:
(1) Can articulate and maintain a clear purpose: With so many businesses struggling for survival, leaders who are able to clarify, articulate, and maintain a clear focus on what core service(s) or product(s) they can best provide now and in the near term, are able to keep their businesses from crashing and burning, or they are able to help their businesses rise like phoenixes from the ashes with revised products or delivery models. We've seen this with the many restaurant, food service, and other hospitality-industry businesses that have been able to survive, if not thrive by moving to creative delivery models, changing products, or redefining space utilization. Also, for those businesses that have experienced no or positive impacts because of COVID, articulating a clear purpose has helped keep overworked teams focused and performing their best. Our healthcare, grocery store, transportation/delivery, and other essential services industries have proven this time and again this past year. Leaders need to remind every team member why they're doing what they're doing and the difference each team member makes every day. Every person matters and the work they do is important and needed now.
(2) Focuses on and strengthens the team: I saw this firsthand last year when the lock downs started. My clients who were actively reaching out to their employees - individually - every few days, then acknowledged and acted upon the stresses work-from-home created for many team members, experienced far fewer intra and inter-team clashes as the new virtual or hybrid work format took hold. Other leaders who didn't actively engage with their teams couldn't keep a pulse-check on stress levels, performance challenges, or home/work scheduling clashes. As a result, they experienced elevated team clashes and performance glitches as the months ground on. Those leaders who chose to spend the time, and the dollars when needed, to ensure they could connect via video with their team members saw greater team commitment and loyalty. Those who didn't invest the time or money, didn't. It's not surprising. What would you think of your employer if they wouldn't spend $50 to buy an external camera for your laptop so you could be seen on screen during team meetings?
(3) Refines the path forward: In typical strategic planning, no one could ever predict exactly what the future would hold. However, we typically didn't have to plan for a pandemic limiting the way our workforce worked, how our customers bought products, racial injustice, or a potential economic or political collapse. We typically worried most about shifting customer desires and our competitors' actions. Ah, the good old days. Things have changed to say the least. Because of that, most strategic plans were tossed out the window with new plans focused on the next 12 to 18 months. Priorities have shifted and rightfully so. Strong leaders now need to clarify and communicate the new priorities and outline how they help keep the purpose in play.
QUESTION: How do you recommend people who aren’t in a leadership position, or don’t have a leadership title, make a difference?
LIZ WEBER: I've said for years, 'Management is a position; leadership is a mindset.' You do not need to be in a management position or have a specific title to be a leader. You simply need to have the courage to take on responsibilities, try things you've never done, admit when you're wrong, try again, and communicate with those who need to know and can help you achieve the results desired. Leaders are deemed leaders by others. They are deemed leaders when they get things done and those with whom they've worked want to work with them again and again.
SHARE ON TWITTER: Leaders are deemed leaders by others. ~@LizWeberCMC #Leadership #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding
QUESTION: One of Walt Disney’s leadership tips was, “Never stop asking questions.” What are your three timeless leadership tips?
QUESTION: What is one mistake you find that leaders make the most often?
LIZ WEBER: Leaders who face unexpected team failures do so because the leader has typically done a poor job articulating what the expected outcome needed to be. They didn't state the vision, goal, deliverable, objective or whatever you want to call it clearly. Because of this, the team guessed, and they guessed incorrectly. As a result, the team, customers, stakeholders, or others were negatively impacted. All because of a lack of leadership clarity and poor communication.
QUESTION: What is our least favorite leadership buzzword, and why?
LIZ WEBER: Mindfulness. It just doesn't resonate with me. I prefer simple 'Meditation.'
LIZ WEBER: Here are my three:
(1) Follow through and do what you say you were going to do.
(2) Have the courage to do what others know they should do but don't.
(3) Be the type of leader you would want to work with and learn from.
My gratitude and appreciation to Liz for appearing on my Blog and for sharing her inspiring leadership insights!
Review of Liz's book on @NewParadigmer Blog referenced in Question #1 above:
Learn more about Liz and connect with her on the following social platforms:
Image Credit: Debbie Laskey featuring Liz Weber's quote.