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Are You Managing Your World or Is Your World Managing You?

managing world

With so many of us confined to limited movement during the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve been touching base (OK touching is a bad word) with colleagues, clients and close friends. The gist of the discussions have to do with “what do we do now?”

An old title from my archives came to mind. I thought I’d dust it off and share. I hope this thought will be helpful to you as you figure out your “new normal.”

Here it is from  the vault.


We all suffer the daily grind. Some days are better than others. For anyone in management or leadership, you need to take a pause to make some critical assessments. I like to call it recalibration. This is a key leadership quality.

Let’s face it, the demands on your time and your life can get overwhelming. In today’s tumultuous market, we really never know from day to day what next may come.

A Story

In my consulting days, I was project manager of a very large engagement with over 600 consultants working for me. It was a coast to coast assignment with teams scattered across 7 job sites. I had nine different work streams running concurrently, with cross-over dependencies between teams.

The hours were long and the travel compounded the pressure. The client was a large national banking institution and the mission was to help the bank respond to a critical regulatory mandate. To say the least, the stakes were great. It could have been easy to get overwhelmed with the scope of the situation. I confess, at times I did feel consumed.

Fortunately, my many years of prior training, both military and civilian, had prepared me for just such a mission. I was a long time practitioner of the principle I am about to share

If you let these pressures mount without routinely asking yourselves some essential questions, you run the risk of spinning off into some other orbit that you never intended.

I suggest that one of the most essential questions to ask yourself is :

Are you managing your world or is your world managing you?

The Frog

There is an old story of the frog in the pot. The story says that if you drop a frog in boiling water he immediately jumps out. But if you set him in cool water and slowly add the heat, he’ll boil to death. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to be like the frog.

boiling-frog

You have to gauge the temperature on a regular basis. Are you getting comfortable with the heat rising?

You have to pay attention to the circumstances around you. There needs to be the routine recalibration of your own role in the middle of the work demands going on around you.

React or Respond?

Here’s another point. If a doctor prescribes medication and I have a reaction to it, that is NOT GOOD. Yet if I respond to it, I am going to get over the condition. Just like with the medicine, being reactive to the things in our world really will not help the situation. Of course there are things that may happen that are totally unexpected. We have to deal with that.

At the core of this idea is the challenge between being proactive or reactive. The point here is that we should not let everything that happens become a topic of reaction. Truly we should be able to do some things to be proactive with what may come. Proactive people are better positioned to respond to the situation and manage their world. However, being reactive allows the events of the day to manage YOU.

So where do you stand? Are you more inclined to be in control of the things happening around you or have you started just reacting?

People Can Mess Things Up

people mess things up

You may think you have developed the best plan in the world to attack the next chapter of your life (ok, maybe just the next few hours). Then, what do you know, the very first person who walks into the office seems to blow the whole plan out of the water. What do you do?

Don’t react! Force yourself to pause and process the matter according to your plan. This is how you manage things rather than let things manage you.

Is it easy? Of course not! That’s why we so often feel overwhelmed at the end of the day.

Even if you are successful at maintaining the focus on your plan, it likely will take lots of energy and effort. But people who have been able to adopt a discipline for doing this find it becomes easier to do. If your outward aura is true to this inner control, the people around you will start to get the picture. Their demands will become less intrusive, plus they will learn they cannot get “the reaction” out you they used to be able to do.

LIFE IS A SELF-HELP JOURNEY

Managers getting it right

Maybe self-help books are not as popular as they once were. The truth is, this journey we call life is full of self-help moments. Rather than waiting on others to pitch in or hoping that circumstances may change, you need to take control of your own destiny.

Personal and professional growth only happens when you choose to make it happen.

At each and every step of the way, keep asking yourself if you are managing your world or does your world manage you? Take the time to recalibrate. Get back on plan.

Question: When was the last time you were able to stand back and realize your world was managing you? How did you regain control?

Leadership in Times of Crisis – Finding the CALM

calm lake, leadership

It would be surprising if anyone on the planet with access to any form of communication (old or new) didn’t know about the coronavirus. We have news of it popping up every few seconds as messages unfold about closures, cancellations, and other alerts regarding the spread.

I respect the need to be cautious, proactive and vigilant. Many of the gatherings and events I was scheduled to attend have been suspended, postponed or canceled outright. There have even been moments where I was part of the decision to cancel something. I get it.

However, I am not convinced I’ve seen perfect examples of leadership demonstrated in every announcement or bulletin. I’ve seen supposed leaders take a podium and simply spread fear and concern.

In the face of a global pandemic, as it is now called, leaders in both public and private sectors need to stay calm. Calm is a tricky proposition for a leader.

On one hand, you should have your own personal concerns about what is going on. If you are high enough in an organization, you might be leading a major project team. Having a totally external force like COVID-19 interrupt your plans is frustrating at best. Again, I don’t want to sound irresponsible or insensitive but hang with me a bit.

When a leader begins to gain momentum, the last thing you want to have happen is for something to break the cycle. Especially something that comes from outside your organization.

calm business man

We Need Calm

Calm needs to be the focus. Here are four key principles to think about during a crisis.

C is for Clarity. Simplify your messages. Speak clearly and intentionally, thoughtfully. Immediately respond to those who seem unclear after you communicated.

People will need clear communication about your new expectations under new and perhaps stressful situations.

A is for Action. You still need to act. If your decision has not been formed, say so. But don’t wait too long. This virus situation is a fast-moving event. Be ready to respond as information changes.

L is for Leadership. Perhaps it should be obvious, but some may get busy and not be intentional about their leadership wheelhouse.

Dig deep in your leadership tool kit to make ready the best tools you have to guide, direct, inspire, and influence during troubling times. People need us now.

M is for mean it. Be sincere. Don’t rely on cliche and platitude. Stay connected with your people. I mean emotionally connected. Up-level your empathetic listening. Hear people out.

Be relevant and relatable so that people maintain (or increase) their trust in your leadership.

Forget About It

We also need to forget some things. A client from long ago posted these wonderful reminders. He’s a very accomplished CEO and leader in the mortgage finance industry. His name is Bill Dallas. Here are his thoughts.

1. Forget About Yourself; Focus on Others. You will become a source of confidence (and calm) for everyone else.

2. Forget About Your Commodity; Focus on Your Relationships. Every time you strengthen a relationship, the viability of you are selling will increase.

3. Forget About the Sale; Focus on Creating Value. Most people don’t like being sold at the best of times.

4. Forget About Your Losses; Focus on Your Opportunities.

5. Forget About Your Difficulties; Focus on Your Progress.

6. Forget About the “Future”; Focus on Today.

7. Forget About Who You Were; Focus on Who You Can Be.

8. Forget About Events; Focus on Your Responses.

9. Forget About What’s Missing; Focus on What’s Available.

10. Forget About Your Complaints; Focus on Your Gratitude.

The Leadership Premium

In times of crisis and concern, leadership value rises to a premium. You, as a leader, must be the one to help others survive. Encourage those around you.

staying calm in times of stress

Stay calm.

No need to argue the merits of a decision someone else has made. Yet if your people are beginning to act in extremes, encourage them to reconsider. Lead toward calm.

Living With a Gratitude Attitude

Across the wide spectrum of mindsets you might have when you walk through the door each day, how often does gratitude make it to the front of your list? If you’re like many of the executive leaders out there, you probably aren’t thinking about being thankful on a daily basis.

Not everyone thinks gratitude is an easy or desirable thing. Joseph Stalin said, “Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs.” Actually, dogs are great at saying thanks. They practically make themselves ill expressing their enthusiastic gratitude for even the smallest gift.

Acknowledging life’s every little miracle (like a dog might do) is a habit that humans would benefit to learn. What a wonderful change it would be to view the world through grateful eyes.

Too often your mindset is impacted by the burdens of yesterday or deadlines you face tomorrow. Perhaps you get distracted by the lousy commute you just endured or the fight you had with your spouse or kids on the way out the door.

There are so many things that can shape our outlook at work before we even step into the building. Today, though, we’re going to talk about gratitude.

Gratitude is a word we usually don’t hear about enough. Maybe your minister, priest or rabbi says something occasionally. Yet when we stop and think about it, being grateful can have a big impact on the rest of our thinking.

If you live in modern culture, you should be more grateful than two-thirds of the rest of the world. You should recall that some two-thirds of the world still lives within the immediate need for good soil to farm and live animals to sustain their lives.

Yet if you’re reading this article from a laptop or other mobile device, you likely rely upon some deli or grocery store to buy your food; far removed from the earth producing it.

How does it apply to work?

While we can be thankful for material possessions around us, how can we be grateful for work and the things about your job?

gratitude smile

First, are you grateful you have a job? When was the last time you wondered when or from where the next paycheck would come? If yours is a steady situation, be thankful for that.

Read more about leadership with gratitude here.

Next, what about the team around you? Unless you truly work absolutely alone (and there are few of us who really do that), are you grateful for the team?

Or is your attitude about your team less flattering as in, “these guys are trouble.” Or, “It is such a hassle to work with them.”

Shift that thinking to be grateful for the talents, skills, and resources the team can offer. They were hired for a reason, right? Unless you had full control of the hiring process and blew the call, the team assigned to you are precious resources. Be thankful.

Read more about building team trust here.

What about the work itself?

Are you grateful for the scope, depth, and breadth of the work itself? Are you challenged? Do you see the opportunity around you? If so, be VERY grateful.

Here are 16 quotes from wiser minds to remind you to say thanks every day:

“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.”

Brian Tracy

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all .”

~Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”

Seneca

“In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer


“When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her . A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.”

Elie Wiesel


“Got no checkbooks, got no banks. Still I’d like to express my thanks – I got the in the mornin’ and the moon at night.”

Irving Berlin

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”

Willie Nelson


“It has been said that life has treated me harshly; and sometimes I have complained in my heart because many pleasures of human have been withheld from me…if much has been denied me, much, very much, has been given me.”

Helen Keller


“I am happy because I’m grateful. I choose to be grateful. That gratitude leads me to be happy.

Will Arnett

“Give yourself a gift of five minutes of contemplation in of everything you see around you. Go outside and turn your attention to the many miracles around you. This five-minute-a-day regimen of appreciation and gratitude will help you to focus your life in awe.”

Wayne Dyer

Are You a FAST Leader?

FAST leaders

International leadership guru Gordon Tredgold coined the term FAST for his book by the same name and his teaching on effective leadership.

FAST is an acronym that encompasses all the best attributes for finding success. Whether your dreams are personal or professional, FAST can help.

Let’s unpack this powerful meaning.

F is for FOCUS. You must be able to focus your vision and view of the goal you are trying to achieve. Too many business leaders are fuzzy on the exact expectation they have.

If you’re not clear on where you’re going most any road will get you there.

First, check to make sure that the goal(s) are clear, that they are aligned with the overall objective, and that they are going to deliver the right results.

A is for ACCOUNTABILITY. You must be accountable to the team, the cause and the process to get you to your goal.

Look at the organizational setup. Does everyone know what they are supposed to be doing, do they know what is expected of them, and do they have the right skills, tools, and training to be successful.

S is for SIMPLICITY. You must find the simplest of ways to make things happen.

It has been said complexity is the enemy of execution. Trying to reach a desired destination with too many complex and conflicting pieces of information or procedure can only interrupt the desired results.

In the military we used the KISS principle, which most of you know: “Keep It Simple Stupid.”

Review the approach. Ask yourself if the solution is the simplest available. Is it easy to understand, and is it believable? Teams become inspired when they have plans they believe in. When we over complicate things, it leads to doubt, hesitation and often failure.

T is for TRANSPARENCY. Transparency allows the leader to be genuine and clear for the benefit of everyone around.

Look at the progress tracking. How easy is it to check that progress is being made and was outcome-based rather than just recording effort spent? Is the information accurate and fact-based, or just based on gut feel? How often is it shared with the teams? Do they know how they are doing, or are they just running blind?

Does It Work?

Gordon tells the story of deciding at age 52 to start running marathons. He wasn’t in very good shape. Friends told him he was foolish. They asked how he expected to get that done.

He applied FAST. The focus was running a marathon. The simple part for getting there was to run 15 minutes every day for the first week. Then run 20 the next week, 25 the week after, and so on.

Did it work? Well, I’d say yes. He’s now run 10 marathons.

FAST can be applied to your own leadership toolkit. Regardless of the size of your organization or the scope of your budget, FAST can energize and propel your way to success on a consistent and reliable way.

Question: In what ways can you adjust your leadership to follow the FAST method for success?

Get Gordon Tredgold’s book here:

FAST: 4 Principles Every Business Needs to Achieve Success and Drive Results

Leaders: Is Your Myopia Your Utopia?

Single vision

When it comes to leadership and management, nearsightedness or myopia is a common occurrence. What does that mean? Is Your Myopia Your Utopia?

Single vision
Single vision

Since effective leadership is part art as much as part science, I see too many managers taking a nearsighted look at their role and responsibility. Nearsightedness is called myopia. By this I mean we place more emphasis on the duties and responsibilities (the science) where policies and procedures govern and control the thinking. This happens while the more subtle aspects of leadership (the art) like communication and delegation suffer.

The Track Record

In your early years of management duties, you had a specific team with clearly defined duties to push widgets or turn cranks. Much of what gets done there is process or project oriented. Process is derived from principles and procedures. Get the process right over and over again, BAM! you’re a good manager. OK hooray for you.

That kind of success starts to sink in and you get swallowed up in a false sense of accomplishment. You figure if you keep doing that, you will keep getting bonuses and promotions. The nearsighted myopia creeps in.

You get so enthralled by the surety of your achievements as a manger, you never explore the more subtle art of becoming a leader. The success seems like Utopia. Why should you ever change?

Growth as a Leader

Leaders, or people wanting to be leaders, must embrace a mindset for growth. Whatever your natural capacity is to lead (and we all have some capacity), you can grow beyond that level.

As John Maxwell cites, there is a Law of the Lid (from the book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership“). Some call it the Peter Principle. We all have maximum capacity beyond which we struggle. The fortunate truth is we also can grow beyond that capacity.

However, the first step in growth is knowing there is something more. Myopic vision will never allow that. If you stay fixated in a comfort zone, you cannot grow.

The Key Question

The primary question to ask yourself if you profess to want to be a leader is, who am I going to be? What will you be to those around you; the 360 sphere? How will you handle your team? How will you represent yourself to your boss?

When you begin to build a vision for the leader you want to be, you can set your growth targets on the attributes where you are the weakest. The traditional ways to begin growing are these:

  • Find a coach or mentor –  someone who has been there before and who can come alongside to guide you through the growth process
  • Build accountability – Create your own personal board of directors with whom you seek counsel, bounce ideas, and get feedback.
  • Read –  Reading cannot be encouraged enough. With so many great authors and thought leaders sharing ideas and insights, you simply must indulge.
  • Practice –  Great leadership must be exercised. Practice every day. State your vision and demonstrate your intention to go that way.

Committing to grow as a leader requires intentional action. Dreams only go so far.

A vision without traction is just hallucination.


Gino Wickman, Creator of “EOS”

You must put things in motion. There is a certain irony here. Think about it, if you want to be a leader, but never execute any action, what kind of leader are you?

Above all, stay away from letting a myopic vision of prior success stop you from growing into a leader.

Managers Being a Friend at Work or Just Friendly?

Friends at work

Anyone who has ever become a supervisor or manager knows the strain of drawing fine lines around relationships at work. Some companies have very explicit fraternization policies. Others are far more relaxed.

Friends at work

The size of the company can also dictate the level of relationships people are permitted to have. On one hand, smaller, more entrepreneurial start-up or emerging businesses rely upon close internal relationships to grow and thrive. Bigger, perhaps publicly traded, companies often get far more formal in their administration of HR policy because they need consistency to protect themselves from higher risks and defend themselves from an employee complaint.

The Manager’s Seat

Sitting in the manager’s seat is where all of this comes to a very personal focal point. Can you or should you become friends with any of your employees?

In a recent post, I presented a six-step framework for building high performing teams by elevating the level of trust within the team. To build trust, business leaders must provide special empathy towards their employees. The right kind of empathetic conduct may easily slip into the friend zone.

Friends

First, let’s deal with the exact context of the word “friend”. In my experience, it represents a genuine bond; some extra level of trust you don’t share with just anyone. Yet there are consequences for a manager who creates a true friendship with an employee.  Here are just a few of the possible risks:

  • Your judgment toward the individual can become biased
  • Evaluation and compensation can be compromised
  • Resentment from other employees

Genuine friendships that may have developed at work while you were in other roles may now need to be adjusted if that friend becomes a direct report.

Showing Empathy

As a leader, keeping your friend list in check doesn’t mean you need to stop being friendly. The traits that make someone friendly usually center around the whole ability to show empathy. 

Empathy is the experience of understanding another person’s thoughts, feelings, and condition from their point of view, rather than from your own. You can imagine yourself in their place in order to understand what they are feeling or experiencing. Empathy facilitates prosocial (helping) behaviors that come from within, rather than being forced, so that we behave in a more compassionate manner. Although there may be a genetic basis to empathy, research suggests it is possible to boost your capacity for empathic understanding. [from Psychology Today]

empathy at work

Managers and leaders who increase their empathetic listening skills will rapidly improve their connection to their employees.

Question: How do you handle friendships at work? Leave a comment.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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Leadership: It’s in the Bag, Part II

When coaching an executive or business owner about leadership, there is a word picture that tells so much more than all the other metaphors. That word picture is golf. Those of you might ‘hate golf’ or don’t know much about it, please stay with me.

The game of golf is a collection of challenges intentionally designed to test your skills. In a standard round of golf, there are 18 holes, each with their own unique set of characteristics. Some of the holes are longer than others. Some have water obstacles, others have sand. Often you have both. Elevations change, grass changes, shapes, and cuts give every hole a special personality.

43607996_s

You tee off on each hole, hoping to reach the green in as few strokes as possible. Once you have reached the green, all that remains are a few shorter touches to sink the ball into the cup, but oh how hard those last strokes can be. The turns and twists of the surface of the green make some hard uphill runs while others are slippery downhill slopes. Here, even the length and density of the grass can influence your effectiveness at putting.

There is a target score called “par” which means you have successfully navigated the designed hazards and achieved a positive outcome.

To conquer these challenges, we buy a “full set of clubs”. The rules of golf allow you to carry 14 clubs in your bag. You get to choose what the 14 sticks include. These clubs become your tools for mastering the course.  The shafts vary in length as will the club heads vary in angle and density. Each one has a designed purpose so that you control both the length and trajectory of the flight of the ball.

People who achieve the best skills at golf can “shape a shot”; making the flight of the ball bend left or right depending on the angle they need to compensate for topography or wind direction.  The best golfers do this “shot shaping” at will; whenever a shot is needed.

Golf shot shapes

So how does all of this apply to management and leadership?

The Parallels 

The golf course can represent the work in front of you; the people, the tasks, the goals, and objectives. Each aspect of your work will have a different dimension, shape, or trait. This applies to the people who work for you as well as the business of the company. New projects take on new shapes. The list can be long and the complexities very diverse.

In management and leadership, you have to plot the course and make plans to achieve the desired outcome. With golf, beating “par” is the goal.

In leadership, having the equivalent of the lowest score (beating par) would mean getting the best results as quickly as possible, mastering the uniqueness of the situation, making good selections, and executing on those selections.

The approach and methods you choose for each situation mimic the need for various golf clubs. Even once a club is selected, the way you swing determines the shape of the shot. Leadership requires a variety of approaches and techniques. There is no one answer that fits all situations.

Leaders who use one style and a “my way or the highway” mindset can be effective for a little while. However, using variations on your leadership approach will allow you to fit the situation and achieve far greater results.

Managing the Course

In golf, we talk a lot about course management. This means knowing the twists and turns and adding to that information the data you have each day about the weather, wind, and overall playing conditions.

When a course gets hot and dry, the ball cannot be controlled as well. If a shot is hit too far or too hard, the hardened surface will allow the ball to run away from the target. On the other hand, a course that has had a lot of rain will play softer. Even when you want a ball to run, it may not due to the wet conditions.

Working with a course management mindset helps to set-up the rest of the game for shot selection (club selection) and approach.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#d98310″ class=”” size=””]At work, we must course manage every day. As circumstances change, so must our choices for solutions. [/perfectpullquote]

While we might have made a tactical decision early on i.e. a way we are planning to handle a customer, a supplier, or an employee, the situation with that relationship may change day by day. This requires us to alter our decisions about the way we need to handle things.

Knowing Your Equipment

Today, golf manufacturers introduce new and improved equipment almost weekly. Keeping up with the latest technological improvements for feel, control, and response with the clubs can be a full-time endeavor. Yet, the need to become proficient with what you own can only happen with repetition through practice. Constantly changing equipment creates the need for adapting to the new tool.

It can be this way too with management and leadership tools and training. Attending seminars and buying programs to teach new techniques for leadership will not work without full adoption and practice. Giving in to the temptation to be buying every new idea is just like the weekend golfer who buys every new club in hopes that this latest tweak will be the magic bullet to solve the problems in his game. Instead, it would be more beneficial for him to use what he owns to practice making each of the shots he might need one day.

Practice and Feedback

Leadership is a solitary endeavor. Just like golf, a person can labor quietly to improve their game. Constant practice is the best way to figure out how you can hit each club. Then rendition helps to lock in muscle memory to aid in the execution of a shot when the time comes. In golf, feedback is pretty instant. The ball either goes where you want it to or not.

In leadership, feedback can be this quick too, but more likely is not. You don’t always know how well your selection of club and shot (your approach) worked out. This is especially true with leading people. Though you may get pretty good at knowing how to handle certain people, to be a better leader you must become well versed in inspiring all people.

Good Days and Bad Days

Anyone who has been a golfer knows there are good days and bad days. You might be able to play a number of rounds and shoot really good scores. Then all of a sudden, you go out one day, and BANG! Everything goes wrong.

Management and leadership have those days too. Things happen. You must let the bad days pass. Stay true to what you know about yourself and your team. Don’t start making major adjustments to your leadership methods before you can resolve whether big changes are truly needed.

If all that is needed is a cooling off period, tearing into your whole method and approach for leadership can be damaging.

Summary

Effective leadership has never been a one size fits all solution. Great leaders know how to adapt, change, and adjust their tools and methods depending on the situation.

Just like making a golf club selection when you are facing a dogleg left with a slight breeze in your face, there are many different details to measure and include in leadership decision making.

Be flexible, be willing to shape your shot. Hey, it’s in the bag!

Author’s note: This topic first appeared in 2016 and was highly regarded as a popular post. So with a few updates and edits, I present it again as a reminder to leaders everywhere.

8 Warning Signs That Your Supervisor is Incompetent

bad boss

We have all had bad bosses, but how do we know if our supervisor is really a bad one? Here are 8 warnings signs that your boss can’t do the job, along with ideas about what a great supervisor should look like.

bad boss

1. Never Has Time for You. Is your supervisor “too busy” to meet, even when it is important, or does he or she cancel when a meeting has been scheduled? Good supervision means being responsive to supervisees—giving them the time they need to get information, understand assignments, and especially receive clear feedback.

2. Micromanages. Does your supervisor insist on checking every bit of your work? Does he or she over-control so much that you think, “why didn’t you just do this yourself?” The very best managers know how to empower subordinates to help them take on responsibility, show some initiative, and grow and learn on the job.

3. Is Untrustworthy. Are you afraid to be open and honest with your supervisor because he or she might use the information against you? Does your supervisor say one thing and do another? Good supervisor-supervisee relationships are built on trust.

4. Puts Me First, You Last. Does your supervisor spend all of his or her time on their own career, and show no interest in your advancement? The very best bosses take a genuine interest in their employees’ career growth and development. Truly great leaders are like good parents. They take pride in the accomplishments of those they supervise.

5. Can’t Manage the Workload. Is your boss incapable of handling his or her own supervisory workload? Are decisions and assignments always made late, or not at all? Great supervisors make sure that they can manage their own workload and also spend the time necessary to effectively manage and lead their direct reports.

6. Focuses Exclusively on the Negative. Is your boss always pointing out what you are doing wrong, and ignoring what you do correctly? Does every speech from your boss take a negative tone of “what’s wrong?” The best bosses focus primarily on the positive (and keep a motivating, positive attitude and outlook).

7. Thinks Punishment is Motivating. Are you always looking over your shoulder waiting for the boss to lower the boom? Punitive management is always a bad idea. It de-motivates people and gets them to focus on avoiding mistakes rather than getting good things done. And, punishment is a major, debilitating stressor for employees.

8. Can’t Communicate Clearly. Is it difficult to determine what your boss really wants? Do you find that your boss rarely listens to you? Effective communication is the key to good management. Giving clear directions and listening to subordinates are crucial to success at work.

There is an old saying that people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. While that may not always be the case, in many instances the supervisor is responsible for making the job a good one. Good managers make jobs interesting and rewarding, and they work hard to make their supervisees better.

This guest post provided by Dr. Ron Riggio.

Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D., is the Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College.

Great Leaders Talk Last

Have you ever wondered why your team doesn’t seem to participate in any discussions at meetings? Or can you cut the air with a knife at one of your team sessions? Perhaps you are the reason there is so little collaboration and contribution.

Managers or owners who call a meeting, but then proceed to spout the answers aren’t looking for input at all. They just need an audience. That’s not leadership. It’s not even effective management.

Good leaders, who truly inspire their teams, hold meetings much differently. Effective leadership allows everyone in the room to speak if the people so choose. Plus, the comments that are shared are received with an open mind and genuine empathy.

The good process plays out something like this.

BOSS – Good morning everyone. Thank you for coming. There is a topic/issue we have here (fill in the details). I’d like to hear what you think we should be doing.

Then open the floor for discussion.

BOSS – These are some great ideas. This has been very helpful. If we connect all of this, it sounds like we are saying …… I think we can use this to go this way…..

The Wrong Way

BOSS – Good morning everyone. Thank you for coming. There is a topic/issue we have here (fill in the details). Here’s what I’ve been thinking. Blah blah blah… How does that sound?

SILENCE – CRICKETS – MORE SILENCE

BOSS – Ok great, then that’s what we’ll do.

There is such a major difference in conducting your meetings the right way first. When you open with your official position and all your stated opinions before anyone in the room can contribute, you stifle any other ideas.

After all, who’s going to contradict the boss? By holding your comments to the last, you can get maximum output from the team. Of course, you have to be able to genuinely receive the input without shooting it down when you do speak. Granted not all ideas may be great ones, but even the less than acceptable suggestions from the team can be handled with grace and dignity.

Being able to hold off is a skill that takes some effort to develop. Young managers think they must know all the answers so they are quick to commandeer the meeting, spreading their pearls of wisdom along the way.

Even seasoned managers can be guilty of killing team spirit by shooting at ideas too soon, or never even allowing them to see the light of day.

If your meetings are not producing the level of collaboration you might want, try this simple technique.

1. State the problem or issue you want to discuss.

2. Sit back and facilitate the discussion rather than command the talk.

3. Watch for people’s reactions to things being said. Encourage comments from those who seem to be holding back.

4. Once the discussion seems to have exhausted itself, then, and only then, state your recap of what you have heard. Yes, you can still assert your views. But you can do so in a constructive way, helping the team to feel their voice was heard and is valued.

Try this approach a few times. I’ll bet your outcome will be far more productive. And remember, your actions can talk so loud, people won’t hear what you are saying. That statement cuts both ways.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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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?