What Do Frogs Have To Do with Leadership?

“Once upon a time, two frogs were sitting on a log in the middle of a lake, and one frog decided to jump off, how many frogs were left sitting on the log?”

Answer: Two frogs.

Why? The same reason only 3% of the population set and actually achieve their goals or maintain positive, well-intentioned change in the first place.  The frog missed three critical steps of Achieving his Goal: Ask, Announce, Act (and Ask again).

The frog understood WHY it was a good idea to jump off, because he was an intelligent, high achieving, upwardly mobile frog, he knew there were more opportunities and freedom if he took the leap.  He understood why, and although he did decide … he didn’t take action.  What about following up?

Had the first frog told the second frog he was going to jump off, I would bet he would have followed through on his promise and lived happily ever after.  Does this story sound familiar?  Whoops, wrong story.    That’s enough about frogs …Now let’s make the story relevant.

Which goals are more important? Strategic vs. Soft Skills?

“Almost 50% of newly hired or newly promoted leaders quit or get fired before their 18 month anniversary …”  This is not as a result of lack of business savvy or technical skills, but due to lack of interpersonal or communication skills …

“The divorce rate in the US is around 50% …”  As a marriage counselor for 14 years, I will also bet the reason is the same … lack of effective communication skills by one or both parties.

Question:  Which is easier for you to achieve:  your company’s strategic goals or your soft skills or interpersonal goals?  “What are ‘personal development goals’ and why would I, Mr. or Ms. Super Successful CEO need them?” you ask? Because you don’t want to be a statistic.

By lack of interpersonal or soft skills I mean the inability to manage your emotions.  You, who growl and   snap when your assistant forgets an important detail about a meeting.  You, the exhausted Senior VP who feels like you start your day in a 5K jog and feel like you’ve run a marathon by the time 8 pm rolls around.  You, the up and coming leader who promised your son you’d get home in time to see him play baseball and you missed it again.

Yes, the human part of the executive equation.  What difference will it make when you have mastered the higher level communication and relationship skills that prevent these conflicts?  You understand why personal skill development is important and may have decided to make a change, but are you ready to take action and jump off of the log?

What if you had a simple, 3 step strategy to make lasting, positive changes in your actions, your communication style or your interpersonal skills as easily as you develop and achieve your strategic company objectives for 2012?  I said it was simple, I didn’t say it would be easy … Here it is:

AAA:  The Triple Threat Solution … 3 Simple Steps:  Ask, Announce & Act (Repeat).

Step #1: Ask.  Ask others what they see you can improve upon.  After all, perception is reality and their perception of how you communicate rather than your perception of how you communicate matters most.

Step #2:  Announce.  Tell people what you are working on.  This not only holds you more accountable for change, it also subconsciously invites people to look for and more likely notice the positive change you will be making.

Step #3:  Act.  Just do it.  Look for opportunities to interrupt an old pattern.  Try taking a few deep breaths next time you feel tense going into a meeting (holding our breath triggers Lizard Brain).  Instead of saying “No” immediately to an idea proposed in a project meeting, take a moment and respond
“Interesting, let’s consider that idea.”

Then, repeat #1:  Ask.  Remind others of what you are working on and then check in and ask “How am I doing?”  Where are you inviting them to focus?  Right.  On what you are changing, because otherwise, people may not notice, allowing the negative things you say or do to stand out more automatically.

So, what are your waiting for?  Jump!

(And go ahead and post what change you are willing to be accountable for in the space below.)

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