Cognitive Behavioral Leadership (CBL): Describe Your Leadership ProblemPosted on July 14, 2019

Why are leaders hesitant to do this?

When leaders are questioned directly, they will readily admit that they have problems every day. But they are not eager to discuss them. Many leaders, particularly new leaders, mistakenly believe they should be able to solve all their problems and, therefore, not have any. Most leaders are particularly hesitant to admit their mistakes and leadership failures. To make matters even worse, many leaders believe that even asking for help is a sign of weakness.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

The truth is, making mistakes is what leaders do best. The only way you can avoid making mistakes is to do nothing, and this is the worst kind of leadership failure. You cannot avoid problems, nor can you solve all of them. But you can learn from them. Your first step in learning from a problem is to define it clearly.

How can you do it?

  1. Describe the problem in one simple sentence. Forcing yourself to use the fewest words possible will help you focus on essential elements of the problem instead of veering into unhelpful speculation and explanation.
  2. Consult detached colleagues. When you are upset, you usually cannot see the problem as clearly as those who are emotionally detached. Such colleagues can help you figure out the real problem. What you believe is the problem when you are overwrought often turns out not to be the real problem at all.
  3. Here is the way I described one of my recurring leadership problems. We naturally fall into wasteful ruts in our lives and work, and we are inclined to mindlessly plod along in them. I will work through this SOMC Leadership Case Study (LCS) in the following series of blog posts to demonstrate how leaders can use the Cognitive Behavioral Leadership (CBL) model to lead more effectively and decrease the stress in their professional lives.

How have you described a leadership problem in a way that helped you solve it?


Cognitive Behavioral Leadership (CBL): An IntroductionPosted on July 7, 2019

Kendall L. Stewart, MD, MBA, DLFAPA

This blog series introduces a new, practical perspective on leadership, the Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC) Cognitive Behavioral Leadership (CBL) model. Developed and implemented in the real world of a community hospital in a challenging rural environment, this model is based on the emerging research from cognitive science laboratories around the world, behavioral economics, and the evidence-based cognitive therapies, which have proven so effective in enabling people with all sorts of unpleasant feelings, disruptive behaviors, and mistaken beliefs to change the way they think, behave and, consequently, the way they feel. While most leaders do not suffer from mental disorders and this model does not aim to provide “leader therapy,” most sophisticated leaders will immediately recognize the utility of using the research findings that support this model to lead others more effectively and to reduce the stress in their professional and personal lives.

In the blog posts that follow, I will provide a basic overview of the CBL model that we have designed and implemented at SOMC, and demonstrate its effectiveness in enabling thoughtful leaders to deal more effectively with those daily challenges that leave so many of them feeling anxious, depressed and burned out. Including this model in your leadership toolbox and using it to manage your feelings and behaviors better will make a big difference in your professional life. Most leaders who have put it to use report that their personal lives improve, too.

While the SOMC CBL model offers a helpful perspective and some effective mental strategies based on how the human brain works, applying this model is not easy. It demands a high level of emotional intelligence, considerable willpower and the self-discipline to do what needs to be done despite how you feel. Bullies, the emotionally immature, and those who are chronically angry and proud of it will reject this model out of hand. Those who persist in blaming others for how they feel and behave will come up with all kinds of reasons why “this won’t work for me.” When you hear leaders use that hackneyed phrase, what they really mean is, “I am not willing to do what it will take to make this work.” But the best leaders will see the value of this model right away and start changing what they believe, how they behave, and how they feel. As a result, they will become more effective leaders.


Effective Communication: Summary of Effective StrategiesPosted on June 30, 2019

Kara Redoutey, MBA, CMPE

What are some effective communication strategies?

  • Clarify your communication expectations. Clarifying what you and your team expect with communication is the foundation of effective communication.  You cannot meet expectations until you know what they are.
  • Communicate through documentation. Documenting critical conversations is an excellent way to recap important information and to confirm in writing mutual understanding.
  • Follow up and close the loop. Our teams wants us to respond when they have questions or concerns. When your team brings you an issue, be sure to follow up with them and provide closure of the issue.
  • Communicate by listening. Effective communication requires careful listening.  If we don’t listen to our teams, we will miss things or make assumptions, and our response will not be as effective.
  • Clarify your intent. Clarifying the intent of our communication helps to set the tone of what to expect from us and our team’s role.
  • Be aware of nonverbal communication. Nonverbals communicate a message, so be aware of yours and be cognizant of others’ nonverbal cues.
  • Be transparent with your communication. Don’t hold back if possible. Providing your team with straightforward feedback and clear communication about what’s happening helps to build trust.
  • Send regular updates. You can’t always reach everyone on your team on a regular basis. Regular and consistent updates help to provide information to the team and keep them informed.
  • Manage conflict directly. Directly communicate through conflict and your team will be confident you will handle issues and keep them informed of progress.
  • Be persuasive. Share the why behind decisions and next steps.  Seek input and respond to it.  We all must persuade our teams to complete tasks and projects to achieve results for the organization.

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

We have discussed many reasons why leaders fail to focus on effective communication. We get busy, we communicate in our own way without considering how others may want to hear it, we make assumptions, we get tired, and that’s just a few of the reasons we don’t communicate as effectively as we should.  Communication struggles tend to be at the core of the majority of team dysfunction.  Failing to communicate effectively is a common issue and one in which we all fall short at times in our careers.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

When we fail to communicate effectively, we risk our teams losing trust in us, we limit our ability to achieve organizational results, and we create extra work by failing to make our expectations and directions clear.  Communicating effectively also helps us to avoid confusion, frustration, and mishaps in the workplace. When our teams can count on us to communicate effectively, it builds trust and they are more likely to follow and support us in our pursuit of organizational results.

How can you do it?                       

  1. Take time to develop a plan. When you have a structured communication plan for your team, you are more likely to follow it.
  2. Execute your communication plan and strategies with consistency. Communicating consistently helps your team know they can count on you and helps to improve the output of your team.
  3. Re-evaluate and modify as needed. When one strategy stops working well, re-evaluate and try something new.  There are always different ways to communicate and to improve, so when one option fails, try, try again.

How do you plan to use these strategies to improve your communication to your team?


Effective Communication: Persuasive CommunicationPosted on June 23, 2019

Kara Redoutey, MBA, CMPE

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

Many of us don’t even realize we are using persuasive communication.  We think if we tell someone to do something, they will just do it.  We may not think we need to be persuasive or should have to be persuasive with our teams.  But people are selling all of the time. When we begin to explain the why behind the task, the reasons, the purpose, the result we intend to achieve, we are engaging in persuasive communication.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

You cannot lead a team if the team will not follow you.  Building a cohesive team requires ethical persuasion.  If you want real buy in from your team, then you will need to share the compelling case behind the task, change, or process. In order to achieve results, you have to persuade your team that what you are suggesting is the process they should follow.  Achieving results is what actually makes you a leader and that requires honest and effective persuasive communication.

How can you do it?                          

  1. Build a compelling case. Include the facts, the why, the reasons behind the suggestion.  Make sure you are convinced before you attempt to convince others.
  2. Be honest if you are trying to persuade. Tell your team that you are attempting to convince them to follow a process.  Be up front about it. In order to engage in honorable persuasion, you should always inform the people you are trying to convince that you are selling in that moment.
  3. Answer questions and ask for additional input. After making your case, give your team time to ask questions and provide more information.  Since they are your key stakeholders and they are typically closely involved in the process, they may be able to provide information that will help you achieve even better results.

How do you engage in persuasive communication?


Effective Communication: Manage ConflictPosted on June 16, 2019

Kara Redoutey, MBA, CMPE
& Kendall Stewart, MD

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

Conflict happens all the time and most of us don’t enjoy it. Leaders
avoid it like the plague. Conflict is uncomfortable. The most common strategy
for dealing with conflict in the workplace is to ignore it if possible. If that
is not possible, leaders use every excuse they can find to put off dealing with
it. When they finally do handle the issue at hand, they usually make several
errors and failing to clearly communicate during conflict management is one of
those errors.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Communication is a key component of any
conflict management process.  Clearly
communicating your expectations, the plan or next steps, and seeking input from
the team is a critical part of conflict resolution.  Utilize an effective conflict management
process that works in your organizational culture. Create a checklist for
yourself. When conflict occurs, follow that process. Do not wing it by just
doing what feels right at the time. When managing conflict, you cannot trust
your feelings. The key to managing conflict successfully is to do the right
things in spite of how you feel. 

How can you do it?                        

  1. Communicate with the key stakeholders. Share what has happened right away.
  2. Ask for everyone to provide their statement or any critical information you and the team need to determine next steps. Seek the information you need from key stakeholders to ensure you can make the best decision at that time.
  3. Communicate with the key stakeholders. Once you have next steps or a decision, communicate the plan with the people it impacts.
  4. Document the plan and share it. Then hold the team accountable.

How do you use communication to help manage conflicts?


Effective Communication: Send Regular UpdatesPosted on June 9, 2019

Kara Redoutey, MBA, CMPE

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

There are a variety of reasons we fail
to regularly update our teams. Depending on the day, the reasons could include
that we got busy, lazy, we forgot, we assumed they already knew the information,
or we were tired.  These things can
happen to all leaders, but failing to communicate important information on a
regular basis can limit our leadership effectiveness with our teams.  

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Most of us prefer to know what’s going
on at our workplaces and how it impacts us. Our teams are not any different. Keeping
our teams informed builds trust and a better team environment. It provides an
opportunity for our team members to collaborate with us or to provide valuable input,
often resulting in finding a better way. By communicating regularly with our
teams, we also decrease the chances of our team members making assumptions or
guessing about our intentions.

How can you do it?                        

  1. Find out what works best for you and your team. You can send a weekly email update, a group text update, or utilize a cloud-based communication platform. There are many ways to incorporate regular communication updates to your team and you need to find which option works best for you and the team.
  2. Use simple language and be succinct. This is really important. If you send long updates with intense language, you will lose your team’s interest.  Most of us prefer simple language and brief updates. Thinking in computer and mobile terms, none of us want to keep scrolling and scrolling to read informational updates.
  3. Be consistent. Make sure you have a regularly scheduled update going to your team so they know when they can expect it and that they can count on you to provide crucial information and how it impacts them.  By consistently communicating, you will build even more trust with your team.

How do you regularly update your team?


Effective Communication: Transparency in CommunicationPosted on June 2, 2019

Kara Redoutey, MBA, CMPE & Kendall Stewart, MD

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

Humans
are naturally secretive. We have all heard the saying “knowledge is power” and
we all subscribe to that mantra on occasion. Sometimes we want to keep information
so we get all the credit if we solve the situation independently. Other times,
we are afraid that sharing certain information will upset others so we avoid it
until the last minute or until the final decision has been made.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

It’s
not wise to embrace the “knowledge is power” mantra for several reasons. First,
having more people focusing on solving the problem usually results in more
options and a better final decision. Second, when the team is given the
opportunity to give input on the decision, the more likely they will be to
accept, embrace, and carry out that decision. Your team will value your honesty
and straightforward approach creating a positive team environment. Not
communicating transparently will damage your credibility as an effective leader
and communicator with those you lead.

How can you do it?                          

  1. Clarify how you will make decisions and invite people on both sides of an issue to make their best case. Ask for data and invite opinions and the evidence for those conclusions.
  2. Whenever possible, make all of this information public so all stakeholders can review it.
  3. Make the decision and announce it. Explain your reasoning. Remain open to changing your mind if new information warrants it.

How
do you remain transparent in your communication with your team?


Effective Communication: Clarify Your IntentPosted on May 26, 2019

Kara Redoutey, MBA, CMPE

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

I say it frequently but being busy often results in us skipping important steps or rushing our communication. We make many decisions throughout our day and our communication strategy becomes another decision point on which we need to focus, and unfortunately, we sometimes don’t. We also assume our audience can read our minds and know what we want without sharing that ahead of time. Effective communication is hard by itself and finding the right channel for the message can be challenging for leaders.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Clarifying the intent of our message
is a critical part of the communication process, and if missed, can result in
confusion and frustration for your audience. Leaders should clarify with their
teams whether they are seeking input, seeking consent, or informing them. This
helps your team to develop a clear understanding of what you are trying to
accomplish and their role in it.

How can you do it?                        

  1. If seeking input, be clear about what you are asking for as the timeline you’d like to receive that information.
  2. If seeking consent, be sure to outline the next steps and get their agreement to them in writing.
  3. If informing, share the why behind the decision if you can and be clear that the decision has already been made. You are sharing the final decision. If at all possible, giving your team or audience an input period prior to making a final decision will result in better acceptance or adoption of that decision.
  4. Take time to pause and develop a plan. You will thank yourself later for pausing and determining the best strategy to deliver your message effectively to your team, because your results will likely be better.

How do you clarify your intent when sharing
information with your team?


Effective Communication: Nonverbals Communicate TooPosted on May 19, 2019

Kara Redoutey, MBA, CMPE

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

We forget that our nonverbals communicate to our
colleagues just as much as our words do. These nonverbal cues can include eye
rolls, looking down, a frown, a smile, nod, or good eye contact. When we get
busy or tired, we may not have the self-awareness to realize we are giving
these cues or getting them from others. There are so many communication
strategies and cues that we sometimes go through our days in a blur subconsciously
choosing not to use all the tools we have in our toolboxes.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Nonverbal cues help us gauge how a conversation is
progressing and manage it appropriately. We can show appreciation or annoyance through
our nonverbals, and we can identify these emotions in others based on their nonverbal
cues.  Whether we are in a conversation
with someone or we are passing them in the hallway, nonverbal cues can provide helpful
hints as to how the other person is feeling. 
Ensuring that we consciously manage our nonverbal cues is critical so we
don’t show our frustration at work and that we do show our appreciation when
good things happen at work.

How can you do it? 

  1. Pay attention to the other person. Maintain
    eye contact and watch for cues that give you insight into how the conversation
    is going.  
  2. Be self-aware. If
    something someone says is bothering you, be aware of your facial expressions
    and manage them appropriately.  Take
    notes to help distract you.
  3. Use the cues to direct your next
    steps.
    If you notice nonverbal cues from others that may
    help you progress a conversation, use them. You can also ask clarifying questions
    to help you understand the place from which those cues might be coming.

How do you use nonverbal cues in your communication
strategies?


Effective Communication: Communicate by ListeningPosted on May 12, 2019

Kara Redoutey, MBA, CMPE

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

There are many reasons we choose to talk more and
listen less.  Leaders often think we
already know the answers. Sometimes we fall into the trap of only listening
until it’s our turn to speak, rather than focusing on the words being said to
us.  In this fast paced world with our
ever growing task lists, we can allow ourselves to be hurried or dismissive at
times.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Active listening helps leaders to avoid miscommunication. Careful listening shows the other person that you care about what they are saying and helps you to develop a stronger teamwork-based relationship.  Listening allows you to ask the right questions.  Leaders who subscribe to the mantra “listen more, talk less” will usually arrive at a better mutual understanding of the topic at hand, which will vastly improve your decision making and your communication.

How can you do it? 

  1. Take careful notes.  Taking
    notes helps you focus on what the other person is saying.  
  2. Make eye contact and avoid distractions. Avoid
    your phone, email, and other distractions and make eye contact regularly.  This will demonstrate that you are focused on
    the conversation.
  3. Listen to the words and tone of
    the message being shared.  
    Not only are the words being said
    important, but the tone in which they are said allows you to gauge a better
    understanding of where the person stands on the topic.
  4. Repeat back what you’ve heard.  In
    closing the conversation, highlight what you believe to be the key points of
    the conversationThis allows for
    confirmation of understanding from everyone in the room.

What strategies do you utilize to show that you are
actively listening?


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