Leadership Without Needless BS

Leaders, who lead change well during tough times, filter out needless noise. Their experience is the filter. It enables leadership without the bullshit.

New leaders, many in middle management, face an ironic challenge. They are building experience — the filter — while trying to filter!

I feel for new leaders and consult on the great challenges they face to give their experience a boost. They deserve a just-in-time filter for needless noise when leading change.

So here it is — a guide to leadership without the bullshit. Help new leaders. Add your experience in the comments section below to strengthen this filter even further.

Leadership Without Needless Bullshit - Experience is the Filter

Image by: Leo Reynolds

10 Point Leadership Experience Booster

Leading change in tough times …

  1. The status quo doesn’t really exist. Things are always changing. Don’t debate if change should occur. It is occurring. Communicate, listen, and engage the team to create success together.
  2. Convert why questions to what questions to filter the noise. Questions that start with the word what generate tangible dialogue and understanding.
    Rephrase why is this happening to …

    What conditions have changed and are feeding the need for more change?
    What are we facing in the future and how do we prepare?
    What roads can we take to get there?
  3. Acknowledge the struggle don’t encourage it. Acknowledging the struggle that people have with change is helpful if you also ask them how they will get through it. Else they think it is your job to eliminate their struggle and you enable their resistance.
  4. Encourage success by moving forward. Don’t confuse endless talk about the struggle with being an empathetic leader. If you want to be a caring leader make the unknown, known, by moving everyone forward sooner than later.
  5. Negativity and positivity are both contagious. It’s pretty clear which one will create success. Admittedly people don’t have to be singing and smiling all the time. If they are very engaged in the change and venting some along the way, it’s natural.
    Yet constant complaining will retard progress and ignoring it is a classic mistake. The power of negativity is there even if you deny it. Call it out and note the impact of it. Identify what is needed instead.
  6. Morale matters. Celebrate talents applied to the common purpose. You will see untapped potential materialize into unexpected wins. Even if your boss is a results-only person, always remember that morale impacts results. It is needed. It’s not a waste of time.
  7. Perfectionism kills momentum. If you or team members suffer from the blight of perfectionism, override it with the motto make it work. It is rare that you will have all the information, optimal conditions, maximum resources, or complete understanding. When team members raise these points as reasons not to proceed, involve them in risk assessment and problem solving.
  8. Personality type differences change from obstacles to advantages with simple training. To ensure that your diverse team members mesh even in tough times, hold a personality assessment workshop before the stress hits. Focus on how to adapt to behaviors and avoid using the results as labels. Make it fun and it boosts morale.
  9. Hedging on difficult or necessary conversations confuses people; it doesn’t console them. Give employees the gift of being clear. Honest focused dialogue shows respect for them as adults and builds respect for you as a leader.
  10. Redirect extremes into critical thinking focused on results. Tough times provoke stress and emotion that yield rigid outlooks and absolute opinions. Facilitate discussions that reawaken a realistic mindset and empower a can-do approach.

What have you learned from needless bs at work that leaders can use to filter out future noise?

What will you add to this experience booster? What is your #11?

Thanks in advance for adding your insight here.

From my experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

©2011-2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers consulting, training, DVDs, and people-skills keynotes on leading change, teamwork, employee engagement, and customer service experience. She turns interaction obstacles into business success especially in tough times of change. See this site for workshops outlines and customer results.

Fill the gaps of change and diversity with business wins!

21 Responses to “Leadership Without Needless BS”

  1. Spot on! I just shared this with the world….

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Very grateful that you are passing this post on to others. I hope that it can reach as many new leaders as possible and your help is key mechanism for that.

      All the best,

  2. Liz Weber says:

    Hi Kate – I’d add #11 – Remember it’s about them; not you. One of the most damning filters I find with newer managers in my client organizations, is their mis-steps in thinking they have more power than they do, they’re smarter than they are, and that somehow they’re supposed to have all the answers. Leadership without the BS from my perspective is leadership that focuses on observing and anticipating what your team needs to move forward, and then clearing those roadblocks for them so they can do what they need to do to get things done. If, as leaders, you focus on what they need, not what you can do as the leader, things work out better for everyone. But that often takes time, learning the hard way, and as you say — experience. Thanks for another thought-providing post Kate. L

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Very very interesting addition Liz. Subtle but true — focus on what they need not on what you can do. That of course requires broader vision and reaching far and wide for other resources and answers.

      Many thanks for this unique + to this post.

  3. Dr. Gene says:

    #11 – What gets seen is what gets acted on. Make everything that’s important as visible as possible to the team. Transparency will help everybody stay on target, on task, and focused on the goal. Keep it public and keep talking about it.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Transparency is very important Gene and a great addition to this “experience booster”. Very grateful for your contribution!

      All the best,

  4. Shawn Murphy says:

    Fantastic message that hits the mark for new and seasoned leaders. #2 is superb. To strengthen the skill set to ask the question in a way that invites dialogue and not defensive posturing or offensive maneuvering can be a big win.
    I like the removed filter on the title, too, Kate. Let’s call it like it is. And you did that.


    • Kate Nasser says:

      #2 is one of my favorites as well Shawn. Such a simple change with a big bang of a difference.

      I always value your comments here and your posts on leadership.

      Best wishes, thanks, and regards,

  5. Kate. ILove it. I really love it! Her’s my #11. Make sure to manage expectations. It’s really important to set stretch, but realistic goals. It’s also important to balance short-term milestones will long-term goals. The short-term wins help build momentum while the long-term goals help you achieve success. Great post Kate. Keep em coming 🙂



    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Frank,
      Expectations can kill success if not managed. I like your extra focus on balancing short and long term focus. People are different and some need one more than the other. By balancing we connect with all and reach success. Thanks for your + to this post.

  6. Susan Mazza says:

    Great perspective and advice Kate. Here’s my #11: Behind every complaint is a commitment. If they didn’t have a commitment they wouldn’t bother to complain. Help them bring their commitment into focus and the conversation will quickly turn from what’s wrong? to what now?

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Never heard it quite said that way before — behind every complaint is a commitment. Thought it yet never phrased it in such a cogent way. Thanks for the + to this post.

  7. Great post Kate and lots of great comments too!
    Taking off of the What questions (#2) and making progress (#4) my key is to always ask “How?” You mentioned it in #2. “How?” assumes achievement. The question isn’t whether or not we’ll improve. Rather it’s “We will improve. Would you like to have some input on how we do that?” Success is assumed and everyone slowly begins working together to achieve the results.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      So great Mike. One word — how — communicates so much. Excellent + to this list. Thanks. Always interesting to read your perspective here and on your LeadChange blog.

  8. Pattie Roberts says:

    I love this post and this topic should be required reading/study/assimilation in every business school. The needless BS is such an energy sink, like driving around with the parking brake on. Sure, the car still moves, but at the expense of the whole drive train! Yes to all you say above, and my #11 would be to get over the heady feeling of being a new leader (“Wow, I’m the BOSS now, I’m all that”) and recognize that the boss’s job is to set clear direction and remove obstacles so the troops can do their jobs. And a lot of those obstacles are likely to be needless BS!

    My own leadership journey began at age 23, when I was promoted to the manager’s position after having been the ‘gofer’ in the department for just a year. I suddenly had to be ‘The Boss’ of people who were older and more experienced than I was. It took a solid year of terrified angst to realize I didn’t have to be (or act like I was) expert at everyone on my team’s job. That’s why they were there. I had to be expert at making sure we all knew what our role in the organization was, and then making sure the team had what it needed to be successful. And a team never needs BS to be successful.

    Carry on, Kate!!



    • Kate Nasser says:

      Good add Pattie. And I learned that you and I have something in common. I became a manager at a very young age and was managing people older than I was. I had no mgmt training or experience. I like your description of the essence of leadership and salute you (and me) for making it through the trial by fire.

      Thanks for your comments and time.

  9. Anne Egros says:

    Very good Kate ! I love #2, that is what I learned in my coaching training and practice and it works all the time, ban the Why ! My #11: intrinsic motivation is the only thing that makes long lasting changes. Help people identify what is in it for them when setting goals and let them decide the “how” once you agreed on the “what” and “when”

    • Kate Nasser says:

      I like your #11 Anne! It does help to have people see the change from a more personal perspective even if it isn’t an option. Keep them moving with the what and when and truly have them contribute the how.

      Kudos and thanks for your add — hope your move is going well!

  10. Denise Green says:

    Love the list and conversation you’ve ignited! I’d like to propose for #11: Drop your ego at the door. If you think that your job is to have all the answers, you’re sunk. Admit to yourself and others that the best answers will emerge from lively, ego-free discussions. Thanks, Denise

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Oh yes Denise … when the ego is not intruding/controlling the field, much is possible. I truly appreciate your #11 and welcome your comments on any post of interest.
      Best wishes,

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