Here’s the One Topic Always Missing from Everyone’s Top 10 Leadership Lists

grace

Are you curious when you read a headline about leadership “Top 10”? I know I am.  There are certainly some great thoughts that get covered in the popular lists of success factors attributed to great leadership. Goodness knows we need good leadership.

Leadership attraction
Leadership attraction

Yet there is one topic that seldom gets mentioned in any Top 10 list of attributes for managers. I feel obligated to bring it up. What am I talking about?

It is GRACE; not a person or a thing. Rather, in my humble opinion, grace is a state of mind. We can’t earn it. Many feel they don’t deserve it. So, I believe that is why I have yet to find the topic of grace being spoken about in any of the management and leadership books I follow.

Maybe you first heard about grace from a Pastor, Priest, or Rabbi. No, this will NOT be a Bible study article. I simply want to tell you about adding grace to several parts of your life. Perhaps it will be the missing ingredient you need to round out your leadership toolkit.

What is Grace?

Please allow me to explain my thoughts about grace, then we will apply them to your situation.

1. I said grace is a mindset. It lives halfway between our head and our heart. We can over-think it, thus killing the spirit of it. Or, we can over-give it, thus defying the logic of what we might need to be doing with it. It is a delicate balance of thought, logic, emotion, and self-worth.

2. It does include a dose of forgiveness. Forgiveness not just for a moment, then later to be revoked, but permanent. Wiped clean, wiped off, wiped out.

3. In modern terms, grace gives us the ‘break’ in ‘give me a break‘. It cuts you some slack. Grace soothes the hurt. Having grace takes away the sting. It is the essence of ‘let it go’. My eldest son suggested ‘breathe’.

There is so much more to grace, but I will leave it at this for now. So with these ideas in mind, how should you and I apply grace? I have several recommendations.

Where Does Grace Need to Be Applied?

Yourself

First and foremost, apply it to your own life. No one ever grades us harder than we grade ourselves. Grace allows you to add a curve to the grading. It gives you bonus points.

Giving yourself grace for the things that have not worked out helps to eliminate negative forces that can cripple your effort to move forward. When you look back in life, are you haunted by things not done? Do you lament decisions you made? Are there any serious regrets? Do you beat yourself up over relationships that went wrong or business deals that did not work out?

If you said YES to any of those, you, my friend, need some grace in your life. Decide when, where, and how you will give yourself some grace so that you can move forward without hurdles.

Your Team

Next, if you manage people, what grace do you give them? There are boundaries and standards that must be applied at work, but your co-workers are human. You need to extend some grace.

It is a certainty that someone somewhere in your circle will fall short of a goal. Once the required administration of the situation is complete, do you offer grace? You can demonstrate grace by establishing a work environment where the employee feels the slate is truly wiped clean once any offense is addressed.

Sidebar –  Yes, I know managers must deal with disciplinary matters that set up probationary periods. So there will be a cloud over the employee while that period is in force. While this is happening, will you treat all other aspects of the person’s work effort with grace?

Your Family

Family is the other area in your life where grace is vitally needed. Starting with your spouse (if married), then your children. Have these people committed some offense for which you have yet to forgive? Have you thought about giving them grace?

Being a leader requires the ability to give grace.

Here are 5 key questions about grace.

  1. When was the last time you visited the topic of grace?
  2. Have you received any grace lately?
  3. Do you owe yourself some grace?
  4. Who do you know that needs you to give them grace?
  5. Will you add grace to your leadership toolkit?

Think about your use of grace; at work, at home, and in your relationships. Are there ways you can share more grace?

Leadership Retreat and Reflection

Today is something a bit different. Instead of my usual message, I am providing you with a collection of leadership quotes and quips sent to me by readers.

Please ponder these thoughts. Some are from great leaders you may know about and admire. Others are from unusual sources; places I didn’t expect to get these nuggets of gold.

Enjoy! Oh and at the end, if I’ve left out one of your favorites, leave a comment or share it on social media. Let me know what you think.

Here we go….

Perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who … have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.

J. K. ROWLING, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.

JOHN C. MAXWELL, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership


Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.

PETER F. DRUCKER, attributed, The Fundamentals of Leadership


Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.

SAM WALTON, attributed, The 101 Greatest Business Principles of All Time


To be a leader, you have to make people want to follow you, and nobody wants to follow someone who doesn’t know where he is going.

JOE NAMATH, attributed Friday Night Light: Inspiration for the Game of Life


Great leaders genuinely care for and love the people they lead more than they love leading itself. Leadership without love degenerates into self-serving manipulation.

RICK WARREN, Ladies’ Home Journal


Leadership is not a starring role. True leadership describes the unified action of leaders and followers (stakeholders) working together to jointly achieve mutual goals. It is collaborative.

GILBERT W. FAIRHOLM, Leadership and the Culture of Trust


Leadership is defined not by the position you hold but by the people who follow you.

CHARLENE LI, Open Leadership


People try so hard to believe in leaders now, pitifully hard. But we no sooner get a popular reformer or politician or soldier or writer or philosopher — a Roosevelt, a Tolstoi, a Wood, a Shaw, a Nietzsche, than the cross-currents of criticism wash him away. My Lord, no man can stand prominence these days. It’s the surest path to obscurity. People get sick of hearing the same name over and over.

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, This Side of Paradise


The best leaders turn their followers into leaders, realizing that the journey ahead requires many guides.

JAMES M. KOUZES & BARRY Z. POSNER, A Leader’s Legacy


Effective leaders are made, not born. They learn from trial and error, and from experience.

COLIN POWELL, “10 Leadership Tenets from Colin Powell”, Stanford Graduate School of Business


While managers focus on the task to be completed, the process to complete it, and supervising a set of people to get there, the leaders role is more ambiguous. They must envision, set new directions, and inspire and value their team. To be a leader, it is absolutely essential to listen to people and understand their needs.

JACOB MORGAN, “What Does Leadership Look Like In The Future Of Work?”, Forbes, March 28, 2016


The first act of leadership is coming to grips with yourself, who you are, where you are, and what is of value to you, and shaping yourself by acts of conscious will into what you want to become.

FENWICK W. ENGLISH, The Art of Educational Leadership

Decisions: The Juice Isn’t Worth the Squeeze

The squeeze

Making things happen takes effort. Leaders know that sometimes all the best effort gets wasted on outcomes that fall short of expectations. You face leadership decisions throughout your day. How do you make the effort worthwhile?

The squeeze about decisionsConsistently making the best of your own effort and that of your team is what separates one leader from another.

You know the types of decisions:

  • Organizational change
  • Moving your facilities/offices
  • Launching a new product or service
  • Simply growing the business
  • Expanding your vision

What ways can you drive better outcome and avoid the squeeze?

Planning

Much is written about data-driven decisions. In big business gathering the data is both more achievable (deeper pockets to spend on big data) and harder to do (broader range of variables). Yet you don’t need the high end, rocket science-like data to drive your planning. You do need valid information.

For smaller companies and entrepreneurial endeavors, you need simple trend line information like:

  • Recent sales, perhaps seasonal data
  • Expenses, what are you spending?
  • Payroll information
  • Materials/supply usage
  • Buyer profiles, who’s buying your product or service?

The process of planning for your next big decision can uncover blind spots, things you haven’t yet thought about. Once the unknown is revealed, you may decide the “juice isn’t worth the squeeze”. That is, you will not realize the return you expected for the effort and resources you may be planning to spend.

Culture

The culture of your team drives everything. The team effort derived from a healthy work culture can often produce amazing results. Culture can overcome limited resources.

Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Sources say he never meant that literally, but it does indicate a bias toward the power of a high trust team effort. A powerful and empowering culture within your team is a more reliable path to success.

Culture isn’t inherently about workspaces and perks, like comfy chairs and ping pong tables. It’s about the habits people have formed, how they make decisions, how they respond to challenges, pressure, and discomfort, and what they believe is good or bad for success. Culture is based on what’s been incentivized, rewarded, reinforced, and possibly even punished in their workplace.

Process

What process has your company or team developed to be able to execute on decisions made?

Ready, Fire, Aim! Is not a process. It’s a train wreck. ~Doug Thorpe

The process you devise for achieving success accomplishes several things, all at once.

First, it allows you to score some wins. Finding the right blend of people, technology, and a procedure is a process. When a particular combination of those elements is producing good results, you have a winning process.

Scoring wins for your team builds momentum. Strong, viable businesses have their unique momentum. But you must have some wins to be able to build momentum. Overnight success is seldom that. Rather it comes from sustained hard work and dedication to winning ways.

Keep finding ways to improve the process. The business world is not static, it’s dynamic. That is, it keeps changing. So, too, must you.

The Bottom Line

While you certainly have learned a lot about making better decisions, we’ve only just scratched the surface when it comes to executive decision making. And that’s why I’d like to conclude by pointing out a few resources to help you get the most out of the decisions you make:

Check them out – you’ll be glad you did!

Question: What are some ways you avoid making decisions that “aren’t worth the squeeze?” Leave a comment.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

If you enjoyed reading this article, please recommend and share it to help others find it!

Call To Action

If you want to increase your influence as a manager, business owner, or community leader and learn some valuable life hacks, then subscribe to my private mailing list.

Click here to subscribe right now! or schedule a brief introductory call.

Is Your HR Department Lying to You?

Employee Performance Review

It might seem silly to even suggest this. Human Resources is supposed to be the very definition of ethical behavior; creators of the fairness and equity policies, modelers of proper corporate standards.   Yet when it comes to employee performance review, there is a lot of slanted truth. In my 30 plus years in business, I have found two significant ideas coming from today’s HR departments that are just troubling to me.

Telling the truthIdea #1 The Revised Employee Performance Review

The first idea got a lot of press.  It is the premise that organizations can eliminate their annual employee evaluation process in favor of quarterly check-in sessions. The hope is to improve both the quality and quantity of manager/employee communication.

Lowe’s, the home improvement giant, calls their program, “Sync Up” and provides managers with a series of seven questions they are supposed to ask each employee quarterly (“What is going well?”, “Where are you getting stuck?”, “Last time we talk about…, “, “Do you have everything you need to do your job?”, “What are your career goals?”, “Where do you see yourself next year?”, and “What can I do to better support you?”).  These questions, and the discussion that occurs when these questions are asked probably do work to improve communication and enable alignment. Heck, I even endorse these questions (see my prior article).

What Lowe’s does not address is the need for documentation that must be collected and available should there be any disputes that might lead to claims or charges.  Are they still doing annual performance appraisal in addition to the quarterly check-ins?

The related premise, also making the news (Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft) is the elimination of scores or ranking in the employee performance review process.   This practice may or may not be effective but has little impact on one key fact. All of us must collect data to justify our employment decisions like hiring, firing, promotion, corrective action, and compensation. No amount of creative quarterly check-ins can change that fact.

Idea #2

Less progressive HR professionals rally around a second idea that traditional, annual, employee appraisal systems work well “if only managers would take it more seriously.”  The key, in their mind, is that we just need to provide more training for our management teams.  Once they realize just how important this issue is, they will step-up and improve the time and attention they place on employee development.

Nonsense.  Managers are smarter than most think they are.   Bosses know, all too well, that today’s traditional, annual employee appraisal is a compliance process, not a coaching exercise.  How do they know?  Those in HR have taught them.  After all, HR checks to make sure the process has been completed but rarely have the time to ensure the quality of the feedback.

Managers know that the process is not effective and that their personal return-on-invested-time for their effort is a simple case of “the juice not worth the squeeze!”

So the traditional process does not work and efforts to modernize the process don’t seem to be effective either.  What are we to do?

Here’s The Fix

For the past three years, Roger Ferguson, of iSi Human Resources Consulting in Houston has been evangelizing an innovative idea he calls Big Five Performance Management.

In its most basic form, Big Five requires employees to submit monthly production reports to their managers providing two simple but effective pieces of information:

  • the employee’s five most significant contributions from the last month and
  • their five highest priorities for the current month.

Nimble, concise communication is valued over lengthy narratives. Most employees can adequately respond to each item with only one or two sentences.  Managers read the employee reports and then provide affirmation and praise. Managers can then coach to help improve the planned outcome. If needed, possibly corrective guidance can be shared if the team member is not aligned with departmental or organizational goals.

Twelve of these monthly reports put together provide a much better picture of the employee’s contribution for the entire year rather than the traditional employee performance review. Over a one year period, Big Five will provide the manager (and your labor attorneys) with 120 (10 a month for 12 months) rock-solid data points regarding the employee’s contributions. You get the built-in documentation needed.

How well does this process work?

In organizations that have installed Big Five so far:

  • The frequency of coaching has increased 37.6%,
  • 95% of employees say the amount of coaching they receive is “About right”,
  • The quality of coaching (openness, honesty, directness) has improved 8.7%,
  • Traction- the coaching actually helps to improve bottom line performance is up 9%,
  • 6% of employees say Big Five takes less time, and
  • Employee satisfaction with the process has improved 49.8%!

And the best news?  Big Five totally replaces the need for the tired, ineffective, traditional, annual appraisal process!

Plus, Ferguson and his team have developed a cloud-based app to deliver Big Five in client companies of all sizes. Using mobile-friendly technology, the process is even easier to administer. Behind the scenes, the system keeps up with reporting and documentation for easy access as needed.

Personal Testimony

I don’t share solutions like this without direct, personal experience. I have known about Big Five long before it was a commercially successful (and award-winning) HR solution. Big Five is scalable. I once used it to manage a project that had a very short fuse.

Weekly status reporting was required. I adjusted the Big Five tools to accumulate weekly status reports and set priorities. The team worked exceedingly well, winning the client better than a 10x return on the money invested in my team. Big Five helped drive the high returns and smooth operation.

If you want to know more. visit Big Five Performance or click the button below.

Growing Influence: Using Easy Leadership Moments

Lead in the MOMENT

Key executives and business owners get consumed by thoughts of big picture responsibility. Thinking big is a valued trait, right? Sure, we expect our leaders to provide us vision. You have to be able to see the big picture to become a successful executive.

Lead in the MOMENT

However, there is one big catch to this blue sky thinking. Sometimes you get so heavenly minded you are no earthly good.

While good leadership helps build and communicate the vision, great leadership does something really small too. The best leaders know how to lead in the moment; right here, right now. They don’t wait for the stage at the shareholders meeting. They use the easy moments to demonstrate their ability to lead. They seize each and every moment with their team to assert their leadership influence.

Living in the moment is a concept we know too well in sports. The quarterback who leads his team to a come-from-behind score as time runs out (think Brady, Manning, Brees, and Favre). The golfer who sinks a 20 foot put to win on the 18th hole of the final round of a 54 hole tournament. The hitter who swings for the fences and hammers a home run with the score tied and two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning.

All of these are memorable moments that make sports history but wouldn’t have happened unless the athlete had trained for that moment. Leaders can do that too. By preparing for and making ready for each little moment, the small things can make a leadership career famous.

What are some examples?

Before the Meeting – The senior exec who has called a meeting of his team can exhibit some amazing leadership skills in the small moment right outside the conference room. Walking up, he or she sees the attendees waiting. Making small talk can become a make or break situation. Rather than hurriedly rushing into the room without eye contact or a warm comment, use the moment to acknowledge those present. Say something to express a connection. Crack a simple joke or tell a short story about how proud you might be of this “amazing team”.

When I’m in this mode, I’ve sometimes said something like “I hope this is going to be good.” The joke, of course, is on me because I called the darn meeting. I can control how good it may be.

You have to be genuine and sincere or don’t try it at all. But those leaders who can pull this off create huge volumes of goodwill with their staff.

One on One – For many executives this is actually the toughest thing they do; holding one-on-one meetings. Don’t let the intensity of the moment consume you. This is a great moment to shine. Break the ice. Help the other person feel at ease. Welcome them into the discussion. Be clear and specific about what you’d like to talk about, but make the moment feel real.

Avoid the pompous air. This moment might be happening in those stuffed chairs in your private office, but help the other person feel at home.

Once, I worked for an executive who led a group of over 400 employees. She had developed the uncanny ability to recall everyone’s name. Passing them in hallways or seeing them in meetings, she spoke to them by name. Her stock value as the department head was greater than any other manager at her level. I wish I could say I too had developed that skill. Not so. Yet I have made it a practice to be open and available, even vulnerable when I engage employees and team members wherever we may be.

In Small Groups – Great leaders really shine in small groups. Those with the best reputation often know how to tell a story to set the tone, ease the tension, or make clear, decisive points. Then the meat of the discussion can open up. Again, warm and genuine wins the day.

With Their Peers – The best leaders can work the moment with their peers. Some of the same traits that work for the moments mentioned above work here too. Being able to connect with your peers despite the known edge of competition that might exist, is a delicate balancing act that only the best leaders figure out how to perfect. However, it still comes down to living in the moment.

What can YOU do?

Think about the next time you’re going into one of these situations. Try a new approach. See what comes of it. Building your leadership muscle takes practice. Build a repertoire of warm, genuine comments and questions to ask those around you. Engage them whenever possible. I guarantee you’ll see a rise in the relationships and a new respect for what you are trying to do.

[reminder]What do you do to lead in the moment?[/reminder]

The Power of a Personal Vision Statement

Finding Vision

If you’ve ever gone through an attempt to write a company’s vision statement, you know how tough it can be. If the end result is 50 words or less, it is likely there were 500 drafts before the final statement came out. Yet it’s easier to think about a company’s vision statement than think about your own, personal vision statement.

Finding Vision
Finding Vision

Stephen R. Covey is famous for teaching us to “begin with the end in mind” (this is part of his “7 Habits” book). What does that mean?

Beginning with the end in mind is so easy in many parts of our life, but very hard in the most important aspect. It’s easy to decide on a restaurant for dinner or choose a movie to go see or even pick a destination for an awesome vacation trip out of the country.

Yet when our future is on the line, few of us really have a vision for what the next 3 to 5 years should look like. Instead, we wake up in the morning and let destiny happen. How’s that been working out for you?

Vision

Much is written about relying on leaders to give us vision. Whether the leader wrote the vision statement or was given the vision by stakeholders or the Board, the vision becomes the rally point for the team/organization to drive toward.

Without vision, the people perish. ~Prov 29:18

In addition to executing on the corporate vision strategies, successful leaders invest the time and energy to periodically review their own personal vision statement. Your view of who and what you are will directly impact your ability to perform and win in this world.

Our lives are perfectly designed to give us the outcomes we are currently experiencing. If you don’t like the experiences and/or outcomes you are having, in your life, then you should give serious consideration to new possibilities, be open to new paradigms, and redesign your life in a manner that will give you the outcomes that you desire and deserve. ~John Younker, Ph.D.

The absence of a personal vision plan creates drift. By drifting from day to day, week by week and month by month, you find yourself on a course that has no particular purpose.

Just as you drifted through an entire day without a plan and accomplished nothing, some people drift through their entire lives. They do it one day at a time, one week at a time, one month at a time. The months run into years and span a life. It happens so gradually that they are unaware of how their lives are slipping by them until it’s too late. ~Mary Kay Ash

Personal Vision or Charter Statements can be simple and concise while others are longer and filled with detail. The length of your personal charter statement will not be determined until you follow this simple equation to create your motivational springboard for the future.

vision

The Process

Definition: A Personal Vision Statement defines and describes, in sufficient detail, an individual’s “ideal future state.” A well-conceived and written out Personal Vision Statement energizes and mobilizes the individual, in question, to realize and live out their ideal future state. It empowers you and creates enthusiasm, within us, by describing the unique and distinctive contributions that we intend and will make in our lives. It is a statement of both affirmation and purposefulness. (excerpted from John Younker’s “Vision-Based Personal Charter Statement Guide”).

To begin the process of preparing your personal vision statement, you will need to write out the information for the following five steps:

What are your core values? Values steer your actions and determine where you spend time, energy, and most importantly, money. Be specific and unique to yourself. Too much generalization will not be as effective. It is called a “personal” charter statement for a reason. Core values encompass your whole being, not just work related endeavors. Think big here. Include family plus really personal, and community life too.

For starters, I usually ask clients to get five close friends to provide three keywords they would use to describe them. It is always amazing to see the patterns this feedback reveals. Use that trick as a starting point for yourself.

What are three important goals you hope to achieve this year and over the next five-to-ten years, of your life? Keep your list of important goals small and give them a date. It is better to focus on the horizon and not the stars. Realistic goals are keys to ultimate success.

One of the best programs for goal setting I have ever known is Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever. He’d argue it’s much more than just setting goals. I have to agree. He only offers this material in Q4 each year, so if this interests you, be on the watch for his offerings.

What image (vision/outlook on life) do you hope to project for yourself? How you see yourself is how the world will view you. Think about this carefully. Your future image should encompass what you look like and feel after you have achieved your goals. State this in terms of the future state.

Look at it this way. If I ran into you at an airport five years from now and said “Wow, you look great! What in the world is going on with you?” What might your answer be?

What are the action statements that come from each core value? These action statements describe how you will use those core values to achieve your three goals. Start the statement with “I will…”

The journey toward realizing your true future-self begins with action statements to get you moving toward your new future.

Rewrite your personal charter statement that includes your action statements. Put it all together. Make portable copies for your wallet, car or office. Refer to it often. Some actually commit this to memory, reciting the creed to reinforce the behavior.

You deserve the future

That’s a loaded statement. Do you want consequence or accomplishment? It’s all up to you.

I offer a special acknowledgment to my friend and colleague John Younker, Ph.D., Vistage Master Chair, Silver Fox Advisor, PEP Executive Volunteer, Trusted Advisor – A Career-Life Coach. John introduced me to this way of thinking and has been my mentor to revisit this critical planning step, one which I now review and refresh year over year.

 

 

The Balloon Story – Avoid Getting Filled with Hot Air

leadership

One day a fellow was flying in a hot air balloon but realized he was lost. He saw a guy in a field and yelled down “Where am I?”

The man yelled back, “You’re in a hot air balloon, about 30 feet off the ground, flying over a cornfield.”

The guy in the balloon shouts back, “You must be a technology consultant.”

The guy in the field says, “Yes, I am. How did you know?”

The balloon guy says “Because everything you told me is technically correct but of absolutely no value.”

The guy on the ground says, “You must be an executive or a business owner.”

The balloon pilot says “Yes I am, how did you know.”

Consultant says, “You don’t know any more now than you did when you first got here. You are exactly in the same position as when you started. You are lost and don’t know where you are going. Now, after all that, somehow it is my fault.”

leadership
Leadership Might

Have you ever had this experience before? As a leader, hopefully not. Yet far too often we find ourselves operating in some kind of pocket. We get cozy with what we are doing and become blatantly unable to see beyond our own view.

How can this be avoided?

First, avoid getting filled with your own hot air. Being in a management role has a very dark side. The power that might come from the position can be overused or abused. The depth and breadth of the power given by a position must be managed from within.

I actually choose to leave the power of the position for an absolute last option; one which I prefer never to use. There are too many other more meaningful tools a leader can use to influence those who report to him.

As a young lieutenant in the Army, I experienced the impact that power bestowed by position can bring. Just months after taking my first duty station as the executive officer of a large troop training company (I was #2 in command) the Commander was sent on temporary duty to another base. I was now in charge. Among many things a unit commander must do, administering military justice under the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) was one of those duties.

The unit commander has the responsibility as prosecutor, judge, and jury under certain articles of the UCMJ. When a soldier violated some rule or law, they became subject to action under this code.

As fate would have it, I had several instances of the need to hold court for some of my troops. After about 6 cases came before me, I was starting to get intoxicated by the power. I could garnish wages, reduce rank and confine people to quarters. It felt awesome to wield this much power. Granted, I was all of 23 years old, fresh out of officer basic training, but the lure of this power was compelling.

I woke up one morning scared to death. I realized I was slipping off into some abyss of mental temptation, wanting more opportunity to exercise this power. Rather than applying it as intended to maintain order within the company, I was feeling energized by the authority.

Fortunately, my better training kicked in. Even the training I had as a child emerged; the classic right from wrong stuff. I was wrong looking at my responsibility this way. It was clear I needed to put in check the energy I felt about this power.

Listen More Than You Speak

One other vitally important way to avoid becoming the arrogant executive is to listen more to those around you. Become a better listener. Don’t just nod your head when others speak. Actively engage your mind to absorb the message.

Stop thinking about your next words when someone else is speaking. You’ll have time to formulate the right response. Take in the essence of the meaning someone is sharing. Give them feedback. Seek clarity on the topic.

Then and only then should you begin to assert your own ideas.

There’s an interesting truth that might appear. The other person’s idea might be better than yours. If so, acknowledge it. Run with it.

Besides having a good solution to the situation, you build trust and rapport with your team by recognizing their contributions. You totally eliminate that “my way or the highway” reputation.

For the Next Time

The next time you “climb into the balloon” have a better grasp of your flight path. Learn the surroundings before you take off. Be equipped with a map of the area so that if you veer off course you can establish some landmarks to guide back on course.

These are all metaphors for good planning and execution. Never operate on a whim.

Leadership is a life learning proposition. Stay committed to finding ways to strengthen your leadership ability. The last accomplishment is but a stepping stone to something even bigger and better.

What ways have you found to check your attitude about your leadership power? Leave a comment

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

If you enjoyed reading this article, please recommend and share it to help others find it!

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If you want to increase your influence as a manager, business owner, or community leader and learn some valuable life hacks, then subscribe to my private mailing list.

Click here to subscribe right now!

Tips for Living Through Change

managing change

It just seems we can never get away from change. It’s an ever-present topic that leaders and business owners struggle to manage and survive. What is so darn hard about managing change?

managing change

Lately, I have been surrounded by various types of change. It seems every one of my clients, my volunteer efforts, and even portions of my personal life are facing major change events. Situations range from major organizational change being implemented by a Fortune 100 company to executive moves/retirement, staff shakeup at a nonprofit, and the upcoming birthday of a five-year-old grandson. Change is everywhere.

It’s not a surprise that I carefully observe each of these situations with guarded optimism coupled with caution and anticipation. Why? Because I’ve been around the block enough times to see people’s reactions coming a mile away, yet it cannot be stopped.

We face change at work, at home, and in the community around us. Couples watching kids grow and leave the nest face daily change moments. That sweet cuddly toddler becomes a terrible two or thirteen. Then it’s off to college or work. Relationships get tested, sometimes broken.

As we begin to think about finding our special someone we face changes in meeting new people and trying to establish the right relationship. Too often people ignore big red flags in choosing their relationships. Why? Because change is too painful after a certain amount of time is invested. I love that thought. Invested in a bad relationship. Really? I digress.

Why don’t people handle change very well? It’s an age-old problem that scholars and technicians have tried to solve. I’ve read articles from brain surgeons who have theories about synapse firing in the brain and chemical changes brought on by change (fight or flight syndrome anyone?).

More important to me is the key question: what should a leader do in the winds of change?

The Job Description

Leaders by definition execute on things. That’s why we’re called executives. The CEO is the chief executive officer; the head guy for making change happen. Our role and job description churns change. Yet we have to be sensitive to the impact of change. There is a clear and present problem with effectuating change while controlling the chaos that ensues.

The dynamic doesn’t change. Regardless of how big the organization or the charter it may be formed under, the people on the team either thrive or dive with change. Leaders can and should make the difference.

Far too often I see the chief executive or at least the senior officer get sucked into the energy being spun up by the pushback from the team. Either they overreact or they become paralyzed. I’ve seen both of these scenarios in the situations I mentioned above.

It’s All About the Fear

From my experience, the biggest noise in the face of change is all about fear. Most people fear the unknown. The new guy or the new structure or the new policy or the new program sets fear in high gear. Very few of us get excited about change.

Moving away from the known to the unknown is the biggest problem I see.

For the new manager who is thrust into a role where change has been ordained from above, as in the case of corporate reorganization, people don’t blame the corporation, they blame the boss.

In mergers, the “winning” side usually takes the lead in making things settle in, but that comes at the angst of those who came over from the “acquired” firm. Yes sometimes the buyer is sensitive to these aspects and places leaders from the opposite side into key roles, but the shakeup is just that, a shakeup. Trust is crumbled and must be rebuilt.

Every person who takes on a new role faces the same thing. The team wants to know who you are, what you think, and how you operate. If the predecessor was highly regarded by the staff, the new guys get points off just for not being the old guy. The trust has to be rebuilt.

Better is Not Always Better

I’ve seen situations where an outgoing person gets replaced by someone who is supposed to upgrade the role. Those changes impact the way things were. Even when the former person was considered a marginal performer in a role, the new guy has to overcome an unfair bias. It doesn’t matter how talented or gifted the new person may be, the crew expects nothing to change.

If things do start to change, feelings get hurt. It’s that fear thing again.

When your status quo is not quo anymore (bad grammar, but solid thought), you start to imagine things that may never become problems. Change causes that kind of irrational logic.

What’s a Leader to Do?

There are several key things I recommend. I think they speak for themselves.

  • Face the music. Realize change does cause unrest. Deal with it.
  • Don’t give in, but let the people have their voice. Talk through the concerns.
  • Work hard on building trust. Lead don’t push.
  • Avoid taking sides early. Be objective. Get both sides of the story before making any declaration.
  • Manage up when you have to. The executive who mandated the change might not realize what they have launched.
  • Keep communication lines open. Demand free flow of discussion about the changes. Don’t let opinions fester and brew.
  • Shine the brightest light you can on what surfaces as the biggest problem.
  • Invest in a high-quality brandy for after work (OK I’m getting silly now, you get the picture)

Change is GOING TO HAPPEN

No one lives in a vacuum. There will be change. Leaders must do more to embrace the recognition of this absolutely guaranteed aspect of moving a business, a relationship, or a team forward. The way we deal with change becomes a big yardstick for how effective we might be as leaders.

PS – I’ve got more thoughts about living through change coming later this week. Stay around.

[reminder]What are some of the ways you manage change where you are?[/reminder]

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

If you enjoyed reading this article, please recommend and share it to help others find it!

Call To Action

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What is an Entrepreneur Anyway?

entrepreneurs

Today, we’re going to do a bit of a 101 experience. I help business owners and executives strengthen their leadership teams, but there is frequent talk about being an Entrepreneur. What is that exactly?

Entrepreneur –  A word that has been associated in many fields and is defined in a variety of ways.

Living with passion

The word itself is of French origin which evolved into meanings that pertain to people who take the risks, founders of businesses and or someone who is accountable in case of failure or success in a business venture. Being a person who founded a new enterprise, it is also understood that entrepreneurs take the largest part when it comes to risks inherent to businesses. After all, they are normally the owners of the company or the business unit.

The common perception with entrepreneurs is that they are the founders of new entities that aim to offer innovative or existing services or products in the market. The talk of profit or non-profit issues also varies, depending on the type of business structure that is used.

Entrepreneurs are, of course, one of the main components of the capitalistic world. They take the largest loses or gains since they are the manipulators of the funds. Central to this is the belief of opportunities in a specific area that requires the filling of the demands. They are like the providers for the needs and thus, they take the gain in exchange for the provision. They are basically service- or product-oriented who device means to create the fillers for the two said demands. The main focus of their acts is towards the gain of profit.

In the United States, there are about 1,800 companies considered to be “large”. Yet there are over 32 million registered small businesses; the entrepreneurs. The segment is clearly a mainstay of the economy.

There are many types of typical entrepreneurs. And because of this evolution from the simple merchants to the more sophisticated corporate men, entrepreneurship has also matured in ways unimaginable when men first thought of selling their own produce.

The Risk Bearers

Risks are sometimes incalculable and rather undefined. They come as problems arise and they develop as more problems sprout. There are no specific ways by which risks come out. They just do and they seem to be integral parts of most business ventures. Entrepreneurs are not only risk bearers, they also take on all the disadvantages of uncertainties.

Risks can be something like insurance principles. Meaning, there are methods by which their intensity or frequency of risk can be measured. Thus, we can provide options in decreasing one’s susceptibility to risks. However, uncertainties may be considered to be more on the subjective side.

Since all risks can’t be calculated and their very nature can’t be estimated, it is easy to assume that entrepreneurs can be characterized both as decision-makers and improvisers. They provide solutions to immediate and long-term demands, which are uncertain, even when business routines are carefully structured.

Entrepreneurs certainly are great risk takers. Without this element of uncertainty, no business can create new, never before seen solutions and products. There are things that must be met with responses that are creative and productive for the business.

The Organizers

Entrepreneurs are typically the founders. It is only proper that they are equipped with facilities that make leaders lead. Founders are the leaders of the pack, they are the builders. They too are planners and the organizers of schemes for giving birth and growth to a business organization.

They are the planners for maximizing the resources. They combine specific factors like land resources, the capital from a partner, the labor of his employees or the resources that came from him to create products that would meet certain demands.

They will then create organizational tactics to come out with the earnings of the profit after everything is settled.

Being the organizers, it is understood that they are also the leader. Organizers always have the authority to set things in their proper places. They can be a leader because of position in the organization (i.e. the founder), but not necessarily a good leader.

Being a good leader is a matter of having a strong combination of values and abilities that will nurture and inspire the team. And because not all are born leaders, nor were made leaders, too few really achieve successes in business. However, leadership alone is not at the core of entrepreneurship. The founder can have a great vision that can become wildly successful, but they must have leadership surrounding them in order to accomplish the greatest achievements.

Entrepreneurship is the will; the will to start with uncertainty and keep believing that it shall, in the end, turn out well.

Next Steps

If your effort to become an entrepreneur could use a boost, I offer two options.

First, you can schedule a short and free chat to discuss your situation. If I can help in any way, we’ll figure that out quickly. LINK HERE to set that call.

Or… you can visit my Finding the Edge website. At this site, I am offering the best collection of resources, tools, tips, and hacks to help new entrepreneurs grow the business FAST! I have partnered with a very successful group of business growth experts. They have poured their 20+ years of experience into this powerful platform.

Right here you can get access to dozens of already-done-for-you ideas for marketing and business growth.

This platform requires a subscription that normally costs $197 per month. But I am offering a year-end/new year promotion that is only $97 per month as long as you stay subscribed. You are welcome to drop it at any time. You can even try it free for one month.

 

It’s No Fun Casting Pearls at Mules

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You know when you’ve been trying to help someone? I mean really help them, but they refuse to hear what you say? We’ve all faced the moment when we realize that someone is being a stubborn mule. I don’t mean to be cruel or harsh, but face it, you know what I am talking about.

Maybe the person is an employee or a boss. Or worst case, they are a family member, maybe even your spouse. Ouch! Regardless of the situation, there is an emerging reality that all of your valuable insight or suggestions are going unheard. The precious pearls of wisdom you try to share are falling on deaf ears. Here’s the solution.

[shareable cite=”Courtesy of Dan Rockwell @Leadershipfreak”]’The moment you realize that your suggestions are never good enough, stop offering suggestions.’ [/shareable]

While it is very easy to spot stubbornness in others, sometimes we are guilty of acting that way too. As a leader in any situation, you must at times deal with personalities that act stubborn. But what do others have to do when you are the stubborn one?

If you, the leader, are the one being the mule, the team will stop wanting to be open with you. They will pull back from the interaction. It’s human nature to avoid confrontation of this kind. In other words, it is easy for those around you to start asking themselves “why bother?”

What is Stubbornness?

Stubbornness is the tendency to resist any form of change.The person with stubbornness is driven by a fundamental resistance to being forced to do anything or experience anything against his will. The basic stance is, “No, I won’t, and you can’t make me.”

The personality with stubbornness is over-sensitive to the possibility of having sudden or unwanted change imposed upon itself and sees the threat of it everywhere. Anything new or different or involving change is perceived (subconsciously at least) as a direct threat—even if the change in question is positive and in the person’s best interests.

Like all character flaws, stubbornness involves the following components:

  1. Early negative experiences
  2. Misconceptions about the nature of self, life or others
  3. A constant fear and sense of insecurity
  4. A maladaptive strategy to protect the self
  5. A persona to hide all of the above in adulthood

Stubbornness is the most prevalent character flaw there is. We all have some degree of stubbornness within us, but more people have stubbornness as their chief feature than any other.

As with every chief personality feature (or flaw), the key is becoming conscious of how stubbornness operates in oneself. If you have stubbornness, you can begin by observing your outward persona in action:

  • Do I have a tendency to justify the status quo?
  • Do I generally argue against change or newness on seemingly logical grounds?
  • Do I often deride new ideas or suggestions?

The Deeper Dive

To fully eliminate stubbornness, you have to do more. You must agree to dig deeper.

  • Why do I resist change, newness? What am I afraid of?
  • What do I fear would happen to me if I allowed uncontrollable changes to happen?

Approaching the deepest level you may need outside help in the form of a counselor, therapist, coach, or at least a close friend:

  • Where does this fear of new situations come from?
  • How was I hurt in the past?
  • Can I let it go?

By genuinely exploring the source of your concern, you can calm the fears and doubts that cause the need to be stubborn. Yes, rigid rejection of change can look like stubbornness, yet it is usually tied to a deeper concern for facing change. If you agree to explore your inner resistance to change, you can begin to unwind the tangled views and actions that come out of being stubborn.

As you reduce the need to resist change, you can inspire others to be more open to bringing you ideas.

[reminder]What have you done lately to avoid being the stubborn one?[/reminder]

Portions of this text come from writings of Barry McGuinness

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

If you enjoyed reading this article, please recommend and share it to help others find it!

Call To Action

If you want to increase your influence as a manager, business owner, or community leader and learn some valuable life hacks, then subscribe to my private mailing list.

Click here to subscribe right now!

 
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