Group Dynamic

Alan Feirer's thoughts on leadership issues

Archive for the ‘Modeling Behavior’ Category

People don’t do what leaders tell them – they do what they SEE

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This morning, I ordered a coffee from someone who made no eye contact and waited for the customer to initiate the order.

I watched this go down with the three people ahead of me in line. They stepped up, placed their order with this cashier who looked down with her finger poised above the buttons. As the order was placed, she kept looking down, and spoke only these words: “is that it?” and “three fifty-six” (or whatever the total was).

The other thing I witnessed was this: she had a small problem and had a question for her supervisor. She looked at the feet of the supervisor, sideways, and asked.

The supervisor gave a curt, nearly rude, answer, while looking the other way, doing nothing in particular.


On the way out, I saw a “now hiring” placard that said “Looking for workers to make a day-brightening experience for our customers!!!”

At some point, this woman had surely been told to provide better, more proactive service.

But she didn’t see that from her leader.

People don’t do what we ask them to do.

People do what they see their leader do.

If you’re a leader, what are you showing today?


Related: Modeling Primer

Written by Alan Feirer

June 18th, 2014 at 9:07 am

Leaders Have to Ask – Wanna-be Leaders Ought to Initiate!

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When the question is
“What do you want more of from your leaders?”

the answer is very often

“To initiate more on their own – to do more of what needs to be done without being asked.”

Well, here are two truths:

1-You have to ask. In early stages, very specifically. In later stages, it can be as simple as “You are expected to initiate things and not wait to be asked. What is one thing you know you could do — and would do if asked — but aren’t doing right now?”

People aren’t psychic. So, ask for what you want.

2-Do you want to be promoted, or considered a potential leader, or get other awards in the form of scholarships, fellowships, titles, opportunities, or unique letters of recommendation?

Initiate things without being asked. Self-starters WIN, because they are rare. You are the person that everybody want to hire, promote, honor, and/or be around.

Be psychic, and do what your leader needs without being asked.


This is an attempt at challenge, and I hope it doesn’t come across as sarcastic, because it is meant to be helpful while challenging:

-Leaders who complain about their followers being “lazy” because they don’t initiate more might be perceived as “lazy” by observers, because they aren’t doing the hard work of asking and guiding.

What do you think?


PS – I’ve been so heads-down on some projects that I haven’t been blogging regularly.  Below is one of those projects — it’s a video to promote a workshop for youth leaders in college and high school – the first half is one way to do student leadership training, and the second half is another way.  If the first half turns your stomach, skip to 3:30.

Warning – the corporate version is currently in post-production.  :)

Group Dynamic Leadership Experience from Alan Feirer on Vimeo.

Avoid the BALCASED! Instead, let's head to Disney and learn about leadership in Central Florida.

Written by Alan Feirer

May 29th, 2014 at 11:49 am

DiSC in Action – Being Easy to Work With (when your leader is a “Dominant”)

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IMG_0814So, you’ve read your leader as a “D.” And, you want them to read last week’s post.  Of course you do.

But – things go better when we work to adapt ourselves, rather than trying to force others to change.  In fact, our adaptation can inspire others to change. (Have you read Leadership and Self-Deception yet?)

Consider this as a goal: Be easy to work with.  More opportunities come along that way.  Something we’ve seen is that the world seems to work better for people who are punctual, deliver on time, respond to communication quickly, are pleasant, and exceed expectations.

So — how to do that with your “Dominant” leader, who cares about results, action, and challenge? Match their style and their needs.

Consider keeping these things in mind:

-Keep emails short and necessary (and resist getting offended when they don’t respond with a “thanks” or “okay”).

-Meet and exceed all deadlines, and avoid excuses; work to solve problems/obstacles on your own.

-Join with them in seeking challenge – AND in challenging them, in a respectful way, when appropriate.  The mature “D” leader respects and appreciates directness, even when directed at them.

-When working, strip emotion and backstories from your conversations.  It can make them impatient.

While it is probably true that they need to work on saying “thanks” or listening to backstories, it isn’t your task today to change and develop them.  But, you can give them room to do that work on their own when you stay easy to work with.

Everything DiSC Workplace Map

Written by Alan Feirer

December 11th, 2013 at 9:12 am

Training in Action — the key to making it stick:

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Just a nugget for you this busy week, prompted by a client email I received.

The client wanted follow-up material, aids, activities, or any other way to make training stick.

While those things have their place, the absolute best way to make any training stick is this: use it. Here are modified excerpts (the message was specifically about DiSC, but the lessons can be generalized) from my response to the client email:

The most effective — and, conveniently, most efficient — way to keep training alive is this:

The manager/team leader refers to the training a lot. He/she actively looks for moments or occasions to point out the way the training informs a situation.
The leader starts by doing this mainly in a self-deprecating way, then gradually moving to using it in positive ways with the team, then incorporates it into feedback. The humble self-reference must continue throughout.

The only way to keep any training alive is to use it. And the leader sets the pattern.

If there is a manager or team lead out there who is saying “Doggone it, these people aren’t using that  stuff I had the trainer teach them.” AND that leader is not referring to it or setting expectations for it to be used in team performance communication, then additional resources will be of limited value. The trainer (could be you!) might be the one to hold the team leader accountable in this regard.

If your team ever complains that “This stuff isn’t sticking,” then ensure that it’s being talked about and incorporated, and that there are standards for this, and that those standards are regularly communicated.  It works.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Written by Alan Feirer

November 26th, 2013 at 9:13 am

Leaders discourage passive-aggressive nonsense

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Sarah and Alan talk about a technique to cut down on passive-aggressive and/or sarcastic speech from the people around you.

Related post: Ignore the Tone

Written by Alan Feirer

September 25th, 2013 at 9:19 am

Another Leader’s Dilemma: Grace vs. Enabling

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Jayson and Alan discuss: Sometimes leaders need to walk the fine line between consistency and flexibility.


Related Post: Grace vs. Enabling

Written by Alan Feirer

September 18th, 2013 at 9:15 am

A Leader’s Dilemma: Delegation vs. Modeling

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Sarah and Alan take last week’s conversation on modeling versus delegation and go deeper.  But just a bit.


Related Post: Delegation vs. Modeling

Written by Alan Feirer

September 11th, 2013 at 9:12 am

Am I modeling what I want?

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While leaders need to develop people by delegating and coaching, they also need to demonstrate the commitment and work they expect from their team.  Tabby and Alan talk about this balance.

Related post: Modeling primer

Written by Alan Feirer

September 4th, 2013 at 8:55 am

Leaders Avoid Sarcasm

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Jayson and Alan discuss sarcasm, and the way it keeps people guessing.  Effective leadership needs to be clear, and be respectful, and there are ways to have a sense of humor that don’t involve sarcasm.

Related posts:

Sarcasm has no place in leadership

Sarcasm keeps you from standing out

Written by Alan Feirer

July 24th, 2013 at 9:17 am

Leaders apologize, and teach others how to do so

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Matt shares the Quantum Apology Model with Alan; the AAMR method helps leaders – and anyone – apologize with sincerity and grace in order to improve positive relationships and move forward from conflict or misunderstanding.

Related posts:

What if someone rejects an apology?


Written by Alan Feirer

July 10th, 2013 at 8:24 am

Things Successful Leaders Avoid Saying (Part 6)

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Leaders avoid saying things that shut down discussion and communication; some of these are obviously intended to do this, so using them can damage your credibility also.

Here are some examples:

“…Enough said.” or the colloquial “‘nuf said.”

“Last time I checked,”  followed by something like “this was still a free country.”

“Just sayin'”

“No offense, but…”

“yes, BUT…”

A great alternative to the last one is “yes, AND” or, “maybe… it is ALSO true that…”

In your next give-and-take – especially if it’s heated – ask yourself (or put on a sticky note in front of you):

“Is my language shutting down the conversation, or keeping it open?”

And remember to sometimes just say “I don’t know – what do YOU think?


Written by Alan Feirer

January 30th, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Leaders say sorry, and mean it: The Quantum Apology Model

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Dear friend, fellow educator, and previous guess blogger Matt Pries likes to share the following model, with is derived from the Quantum Learning school of thought: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alan Feirer

January 23rd, 2013 at 9:34 am