Unmute Your Leadership | Part 2

A Next Level Leader is strongest when they handle negative things in a positive way.

In my last post, I connected with leaders who want to unmute their leadership. Leaders are often frustrated by the fact that their words, lessons, and rants aren’t making a difference in the lackluster performance of their team. Your problem may be that your leadership is muted. You are saying the right things, but your team can’t hear you. The screaming reality of your example is drowning out your words. The most impactful lessons you will ever teach will be taught as others see what you do vs hear what you say.

In this series of posts, I am revealing three examples of how every leader lives out while leading their team.

The first example you lead with is your confession. The second example you lead through is your correction.

A leader can make or break a team by how they exemplify correction.

At some point, every leader will be tasked with the correction of a team member. Improper correction will mute your leadership and make you less effective. Both you and your team will suffer because of it.

The examples of improper correction are many. In this world of abuse at every level, people are too familiar with the pain, embarrassment, and discouraging effects of poorly executed correction. The result of poor correction is the reduction of influence in that person or team’s life. That leader has been muted.

Care enough to be clear.

A corrective action can be a great opportunity to lead strong. It is possible to exemplify positive correction. Mastering positive correction will create an atmosphere of trust, foster openness, and build respect. You can unmute your leadership through positive correction.

Here are 5 ways to give correction in a manner that will elevate both the individual and the cause:

1. Calm Down.

Most improper correction is done when the leader is upset or angry. Remember, the first person you lead is yourself. Don’t allow yourself to discipline while emotional.

A decompression partner can help you manage your level of emotion. This is a trustworthy individual who can hear your frustration without becoming upset, judging your response, or betraying a confidence. Connecting with them to vent results in several benefits:

• You express your most explosive emotions in a safe place.
• You audition your arguments.
• You receive a second opinion.
• You protect your team.

2. Don’t Avoid.

Avoiding corrective action results in uncertainty:

• Uncertainty in the team members who know action is needed
• Uncertainty in the individual who needs correction as they wait for the proverbial hammer to fall
• Uncertainty in the leader’s ability to handle the situation

Take the time you need to calm down, then formulate your approach. Circumstances may periodically dictate differently, but addressing the situation in a timely manner will:

• Mitigate uncertainty
• Maximize the effectiveness of the correction
• Efficiently navigate the team past a negative moment

3. Be Direct

I have a friend who is a great leader in many respects. His struggle is in this area. He cares so deeply for the individuals he leads that he is rarely direct with them. When they leave his office they are convinced they are incredible people and assets to the team, but they have no idea they have been corrected. This results in little to no change on their part. Unfortunately, both frustration and turnover are high.

Care enough to be clear.

Some leaders claim clarity as an excuse for harshness. Here are some tips to help you be more direct without being harsh:

• Maintain direct eye contact.
• Keep your voice low in pitch and volume.
• Keep a minimal distance; not too close to be weird, but close enough for contact.
• Don’t separate yourself with an object like a desk. That works great with a stranger, but this is a valued team member.
• State clearly why you are meeting.
• Explain the situation as you understand it.
• Ask if there are any substantive changes to your understanding of the situation. Allowing them to express themselves will go a long way toward clearing the air.
• Calmly express your correction including what was wrong, why it was wrong, and the plan to correct the wrong.
• Keep the focus on the issue, not the person.

My guess is your team member would rather be corrected than fired.

4. Be Concise

Leaders who draw out correction are masochistic, sadistic or both.

Prepare to be concise by:

• Correcting only after having a full grasp of the situation
• Outlining your plan of action, on paper if necessary
• Practicing your articulation of the problem

5. Sandwich the Correction in Affirmation

Positive correction can take your leadership to the next level. It will elevate your team in the process!

This is your teammate. Before they did something stupid they were doing something great. Refuse to focus on the losses while ignoring the gains.

Here are a few tips to building a great sandwich:

• Don’t be shy about what you are saying. Next Level Leaders can’t afford timidity.
• Remove the dread.
• Open with a statement like, “We need to talk about something difficult. Before we unpack that know that nothing has been done that can’t be fixed.”
• Follow tips 3 & 4.
• Share a correction you experienced and the benefit you realized as you accepted and applied that correction.
• Dream for them. In this moment they are feeling relief and the weight of correction. Move their eyes and hearts forward by dreaming about the positive future you see before them.

Following these simple tips will charge the morale of your team. You will lead a group of confident and secure individuals who are now ready to focus on the team’s mission and vision.

This week take a moment to step back from the day to day business to look at how you have handled correction. Has your correction resulted in positive returns? If not, what do you need to change? If so, congratulations! You are leading well.

Exemplify positive corrections and your leadership will be heard loud and clear. Your team will be experiencing great success in no time.

I’d love to hear what you think! What can you add to this list? What has your experience taught you in this area of leadership? Share your ideas below in the comments section.