Archive for 2017

The 4 Key Behaviors of the Super Successful CEO

December 6th, 2017 • by Laura Scott •

Not everyone who makes it to Chief Executive Officer has the skills and behaviors to be successful in their role. In fact, a recent article in the Harvard Business Review noted that “from 2000 to 2013, 25% of the Fortune 500 chief executives who left their firms were forced out. One major reason is that there’s a fundamental disconnect between what boards of directors think makes for an ideal CEO and what actually leads to high performance.”

When researchers at ghSmart’s CEO Genome Project looked at a database of 2,000 CEO assessments they found that successful CEOs demonstrated four common key behaviors that either got them the top job, or allowed them to exceed expectations:

1.      They are decisive — recognizing that a wrong decision is often better than no decision at all.

2.      They engage purposefully for impact — they try to understand their stakeholder’s needs and motivations with a focus on delivering results while also creating value. They are mindful of their emotions and facial expressions understanding that emotions are contagious and expressions and body language can be misinterpreted.

3.      They proactively adapt to current situations, while focusing on long-term, big picture strategies that put their companies ahead of the curve.

4.      They deliver results reliably. They know how to quell investor nervousness by being predictable in their actions and results, and managing expectations.

Some of the key findings that emerged from this study had much to do with values as behaviors. 90 percent of the successful CEOs showed perseverance and resiliency when dealing with setbacks, not perceiving them as failures but as opportunities to learn. Despite the setbacks, the CEOs proved to be reliable not only in their results but in their own personal conduct. 94% of the strong CEO candidates analyzed scored high on being consistent in following through on their commitments and promises, so there may be something to the old saws, “Be true to your word”, and “underpromise and overdeliver.”

Asking for Feedback? Here’s a Menu of Questions for Biz Owners and Execs

November 6th, 2017 • by Laura Scott •

Asking for feedback from trusted sources is likely the most important thing that you can do to narrow the focus of your personal or professional development plan. CEOs report that getting honest feedback is one of the things they miss most as they move up the org chart. It’s true, when you get to a certain level, there are less opportunities to get actionable feedback, particularly if you a small business owner or CEO.

Often I am asked, as an executive coach, to interview my future client’s peers and stakeholders ahead of an executive coaching engagement so that I can provide my client with a 360 summary of the feedback I receive from conducting short, confidential phone interviews. This feedback summary is crafted so these clients don’t read the verbatim feedback of a particular person (to honor confidentiality of the feedback givers), but that fact doesn’t diminish the value to the client, as they consistently tell me that this feedback summary was one of the most helpful tools in their coaching, allowing us to make the most of our coaching time together.

I also share the following “menu” of feedback questions with clients who want to ask for feedback from their co-workers, forum and mastermind peers, friends, or key stakeholders in open feedback sessions or surveys. I invite you to use these questions however you wish. Just remember to thank those who provided you with the feedback, because feedback is the gift that keeps on giving! Here’s my Feedback Question Menu:

· What do you see as my key strength? What has impressed you about me?

· What have you observed about my behavior that seems incongruent with my “talk” or “values”?

· What would be the one thing that I could work on that would make the most difference in my effectiveness as a leader?

· What would be the one thing that I could work on that would make the most difference in my effectiveness as a communicator?

· What would be the one thing that I could work on that would improve my ability to connect and nurture relationships?

· What would be the one thing that I could change that would enhance my appearance or professional or leadership presence?

· On what occasions do I seem afraid, or not confident?

· What is one skill I could develop further that would enhance my success, or the success of my business?

· If you could identify one thing that you think might be a blind spot for me, what would it be?

· Where do you think my focus should be in terms of personal or professional development?

· What is it about me that you sometimes find distracting, or annoying?

When Perfect Isn’t Perfect

January 30th, 2017 • by Laura Scott •

As a reformed perfectionist, I understand the appeal of perfection. Whether it’s the aesthetic appeal of a perfectly cut diamond or the yummy perfection of a beautifully decorated wedding cake, we all appreciate perfection on the occasions it shows up in our lives. We marvel because perfection is so rare and often beautiful.

While perfection is something we all appreciate, we get into trouble when we constantly strive for it. Striving for perfection is a surefire way to set yourself, or others, up for failure and disappointment. And, in most cases, perfection is not necessary, or even good.

Imagine coming into every meeting with the perfect solution. How boring would that be? How would that make your coworkers feel? Imagine if you could not leave your house until every hair was in place and your makeup flawless. How many hours of your life would be consumed with grooming? Who would be waiting, impatient and annoyed? Imagine if every report you presented would be thrown into a fire pit (without a digital copy to rework — horrors!) if it had just one typo or mistake. How would you feel as the author of that report? Yet so many of us strive to achieve perfection in everything we do, and feel disappointment when we can’t.

When I work with senior executive women and they say, “I am a bit of a perfectionist” they are often taken aback when I respond, “perfectionism is a block to success.” But it is true. Perfectionism is the enemy of progress, innovation, and productivity. And perfectionism—practiced as a solo sport—disengages others. Perfect people are just plain annoying.

When I was married I would tell my husband that he was “perfect in his imperfectness” and I believed that. In my thirties, I finally learned to believe that about myself and that new belief changed everything. I began to take delight in the beautiful imperfections that showed up in my world every day: my imperfect smile, the misshapen heirloom tomato, the driftwood on the beach, natural pearls, and the overdone cookies I gobbled down before the guests arrived. I found beauty or value in every one of these things. I understood that God made the perfect and the imperfect as a way to give us contrast and I learned that, like the rose blossom, perfection may be very temporary.

This new belief in the perfection of imperfection freed me from striving for the unattainable. My newfound appreciation for imperfection allowed me to be more creative, more collaborative, less rigid, and less stressed. Most importantly it allowed me to be more compassionate with myself and with others. I understood that we if we valued only that which was perfect we would risk devaluing prototypes, research, opinions, art, cuisine, wine, film, dancing, and our childhood teddy bears.

The reality is that if we expect perfection of ourselves, or others, we will live a life of disappointment. If we strive for perfection we will be crippled by the pressure to perform. If we constantly achieve perfection we will appear less human, and less approachable.

When I was vacationing in Turkey and admiring the beautiful handmade rugs, I was told that the weavers would intentionally weave in a “mistake”— an odd-colored piece of yarn or a break in the pattern — because “only Allah is perfect.” I didn’t spot the “mistake” until the rug merchant pointed it out to me. Step back from the rug, soften your gaze, and the intentional flaw disappears. So I challenge you to make imperfection an art form. Be perfect in your imperfectness.  Be that beautiful rug.