Leadership: Shining Light v Casting Darkness

“The beatings will continue until morale improves.” Heard that before? How often have you worked for a boss who operated that way? It’s not fun. Actually, it’s a horrible environment to suffer. Yet, work we must, and sometimes it comes out this way.

Shining Light v Casting Darkness
Shining Light v Casting Darkness

Despite all of the great teachings about leadership, the effective demonstration of it comes down to two simple realities. As a leader, we can either shine light on our world or we cast darkness.

[shareable cite=”Parker J. Palmer, PhD.”]A leader is someone with the power to project either shadow [darkness] or light onto some part of the world and onto the lives of the people who dwell there.[/shareable]

Think about the simplicity of this idea. Darkness or light. Which do you choose? This is an age old question, yet it is one that is renewed and reenacted daily by managers and leaders everywhere.

You can be having the proverbial ‘bad day’ and inflict great darkness on those around you. Whether your bad day started as an argument with the spouse or significant other, or perhaps the clerk at the coffee shop, it doesn’t matter. Your team doesn’t deserve the darkness your misfortune might cause.

As leaders we have to be ever-mindful of the significance of our duty. Rather than letting a darkness creep into out world, we have to fight that urge and produce light.

Light helps things grow (unless you are working with a bunch of mushrooms planted in you-know-what). We use the phrase “well that sheds a new light doesn’t it” to describe taking a new view. Vision works in light. It doesn’t take that much. After all a simple small candle can light a whole room of pitch darkness.

Deep Within

A critical consideration is whether you have a propensity to generate darkness due to some deep inner matter left unresolved. Is your look at the world skewed? Do you even have the ability to generate light? Is there an inner darkness that can be triggered at will?

You have to combat the urge to spew darkness when light is preferred. Please refer back to my missive on “bitter or better” for further insight.

Shine Only Happens with Light

The sparkle and glimmer we see coming from nice, pretty objects is only a function of light being reflected. Does your team sparkle because of light you give them? Yes, a leader has that ability, to help others shine.

You an offer “light” for your team by giving praise where praise is due. Give grace to those who need it (mistakes do happen). Encourage the team member who needs encouraging. Teach the person who needs to know a little more.

None of those actions include belittling, condescending thoughts, or criticism. Reverse psychology is a cruel tool for a leader to rely upon. It’s just too easy for it to be taken the wrong way.

Communicate freely and keep others connected. Build trust to amplify the light you are spreading.

Its Your Choice

It is your choice. Think about the quip you feel the need to say. Filter it. If it doesn’t produce light, it probably is dark. Leave it alone.

Find the ways you can harness the power of light in your world.

So you want to be a difference maker? Check yourself for the levels of light coming from your leadership efforts these days.

Light makes might! Go for it!

Do you suffer from Bright Shiny Objects?

Bright shiny objects distract us right? Too many leaders suffer from an occasional bout of BSO Syndrome, chasing bright shiny objects. A leader’s focus must remain clear.

What are some bright shiny objects?  I am not talking about material things, although those certainly can distract. I once knew a CEO who had a large 10 foot mural of a road racing bicycle he owned hung in his office. Seriously, a 10 foot picture of a bike, with pedals and chains. Kudos to him for his dedication to cycling, but seriously. How distracting was that mural?

The notion of bright shiny objects means the shifting of focus from the central track we need to be operating on to less than significant efforts that rob energy and effort from the venture. In one word, distraction.

When we fall prey to chasing BSO, we lose sight of the plan we are on, priorities slip, even relationships change. We can get blinded to the lure of the BSO.

There’s a funny thing though. People subject to frequent BSO syndrome usually don’t even know they do it. Why? They are too busy bouncing from one object to the next.

When you are tasked with leading a team, you have to be ever-vigilant for BSO distraction. They come in many ways. Here are the key ones:

YOU GET LOST

You as the leader find and see some BSO, so you get lost. Your attention shifts away from the primary direction. You take a detour. You become the one with glazed vision and a fixed stare, looking at the new thing, unable to refocus on the key elements of your work.

I have attorney friends who often complain about clients who miss the critical aspects of a legal fight because they are more focused on the BSO elements instead of the bigger picture. Big cases have been lost over BSO chasing mentality.

THE TEAM GETS LOST

A whole team can get caught up in some form of bright shiny object, causing a herd mentality. When the masses shift on you, their leader, you have to rein it back in again. By over-communicating core values, vision, and direction, you reduce or eliminate the risk of the team shifting away from you to chase a BSO.

[shareable cite=”Doug Thorpe”]Being proactive rather than reactive can eliminate the herd mentality.[/shareable]

Fortunately, team shift caused by bright shiny objects is rare. In most cases, a team shift is not about bright and shiny things, but doom and gloomy things. Bad momentum can cause a whole team to shift. But that’s another topic.

THE MARKET GETS LOST

This may be the toughest form of BSO Syndrome to fight. When a whole market shifts to the next big thing, you have to be ready to make informed decisions about whether you want to take your business in a different direction. There is a fine line between waiting out a temporary shift (a true, but temporary, flight to some BSO) versus a real change in a market.

Kodak infamously missed the digital photography shift. Digital wasn’t just some BSO, it was a disruptive progression of change.

Being too dedicated to avoiding all bright shiny objects may leave you behind or totally out of a market. Occasionally what appears to be a BSO may need to be carefully evaluated after all. This is especially true with shifts in the market value of your product or service.

The Best Solution

The best way to avoid distraction from chasing BSO is to maintain an awareness of your priorities and purpose. Allow for frequent checks on the primary objectives you have set in your plan. Be true to to those efforts first. Be open and honest with yourself and others about chasing bright shiny objects. As a leader you must have a feedback loop provided by trusted advisors who can call you out on a venture down BSO Lane.

[reminder]Leave a comment and share your latest story about bright shiny objects.[/reminder]

Also, I have some limited times during the day that I am willing to take calls to answer questions from the tribe here. To schedule your call, just click below.

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Leaders: Get Out of Your Own Box

Nowadays ‘thinking outside the box’ is cliché. We’ve heard it so much we have either forgotten what the idea was really about or written it off.

The problem is that psychologists tell us we all have these personal paradigms that drive our reaction and interaction with culture and society. The older we get, the more “Set in our ways” we become. This is the perfect example of operating from within a very narrow box.

In front of a large audience one day, I asked two volunteers to step on stage. I had arranged two large shipping boxes, something as large as the crates that refrigerators come in. The two volunteers were to step inside each box (doors had been cut to ease the access). Then I asked them to proceed with talking to one another as though they had just met, introducing themselves to one another and talking like this was a networking event.

They couldn’t do it very well. They were talking over each other, interrupting, missing words and phrases from the other person. Clearly their communication was suffering. With little to no connection, their meeting was turning out to be a disaster.

They were then told to exit the box; step outside and face each other. Now resume the effort. Well, of course, things improved quickly.

This was a graphic display of the problems with operating from inside our personal paradigms. Whatever bias, value structure, prejudice, or judgment you have against the world, staying inside your box will prohibit you from adequately connecting with others.

By staying inside those boxes we filter everything being heard and received. Often that filtering corrupts the message or the intent of the sender.

As you meet a new person, strive to understand their “box” first. Forget your bad ideas and limited scope. Hear them genuinely and seek first to understand (a la Steven Covey). You just cannot build a high trust relationship without it. This fits for hiring managers, sales leads, new friends, and other personal relationships.

Give yourself a test. Try this for just one full week. Make a concerted effort to unfilter everything you receive from those around you. Don’t jump to any assumptions or conclusions. If you’ve already ‘tagged’ a person, give them the grace to erase that tag. See and hear them for what they might really be saying.

See the amazing things that can happen. Post back here and let me know what you find.

If you would like to explore more ideas for growing your own leadership influence, click the link below to schedule a short, but free call.

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Leadership: How do you handle feedback?

Feedback

The further you get into management and leadership, the farther away you might get from personal feedback. Yes, the boss will certainly let you know what you are doing wrong, but what if you ARE the boss? Is there anyone or any way you receive feedback?

Feedback
Feedback

Receiving feedback is not always easy. Seldom is the feedback positive as in “hey great job” or “wow, you really crushed that moment”. If you are getting this positive feedback on a regular basis, you are in rare air. Enjoy it.

[shareable cite=”Jack Canfield”]Leaders cannot work in a vacuum. They may take on larger, seemingly more important roles in an organization, but this does not exclude them from asking for and using feedback. In fact, a leader arguably needs feedback more so than anyone else. It’s what helps a leader respond appropriately to events in pursuit of successful outcomes. [/shareable]

No, sadly, feedback is usually more negative. There is never a need for more negative feedback. You can find it often. For every great decision you make, someone somewhere will be doubting or objecting. That comes with the territory of being a manager.

How do you handle feedback?

There are three ways that people receive and react to feedback.

Categorical Denial

There are those who profess a tough skin and merely choose to ignore feedback. They take the position that no one knows my job better than me. Anyone who disagrees can take a hike. Doubt me and I will show you.

If the feedback is anonymous,as it sometimes may be, the person operating in denial merely brushes it off without any response.

That’s the kind of manager you want to avoid. Denial is not just a river in Egypt. It’s a sad position to be in as a leader. There is always an opportunity to grow and learn. If you reject feedback, you have shut the door on learning. Of course mistakes will get made.

Regardless of how flawlessly you think your decisions can be, there is room for error. Error creates a natural feedback loop. Whether your team was impacted directly or indirectly by your error, you need feedback to make the right corrections. For every action there is a reaction.

I’m So Mad

The next response may be to just get angry. The mindset sounds something like this “I am so mad they tried to call me out” or “I am going to be sure they pay for such an insubordinate move”.

Anger and hostility toward feedback is a narrow and uninformed response. As mentioned above, there is always room t grow as a leader. If you choose to reject such growth, you will stay stuck at one level for a very long time.

There is one other downside to getting angry about it. People will stop communicating. If you explode every time someone points something out, well-meaning subordinates will give up. They will cease to participate in growing the team.

Emotional Intelligence

A leader with a higher degree of emotional intelligence will welcome feedback and administer it properly. Sure you need to analyze the details. Some may be bunk, but the majority is usually valuable. Consider the source as credible or simply disgruntled. There are always different possibilities.

Once the source and the substance of the feedback is understood, then an emotionally intelligent leader will take it in. They will distil the teaching moment. The recommendation or suggestion will be seen through an objective lens of consideration for improvement.

If there is learning to be done, then this leader will do so; applying the feedback as a positive, looking for the gain from the experience.

How do you respond to feedback?

What is your natural mode? For anyone who wants to be a better leader, thee is only one response. You take feedback in, process it, distil it, and learn from it.

[shareable cite=”Bill Gates”]We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.[/shareable]

[reminder]Share your most recent experience dealing with feedback.[/reminder]

Lessons in Leadership: Soaring with the Winds of Life

 

In learning how to fly an airplane, one of the first lessons has to do with understanding winds. Winds come in basically three types;

  • Head winds – those which hits you right in the face
  • Tail winds – those from behind
  • Cross winds – those at angles from the side

I believe the challenges we face in life model these three types of wind as well. If we consider all the forms of challenge we face, we can boil it down into these three categories. However, it might be interesting to compare the pilot’s concern with each of these winds as we think about our daily responses to life’s winds…..

Head Wind

First, the head winds. Too often we might be prone to think of these negatively. As wind hits us in the face, it slows us down, forces us to press harder against the wind. Bob Seger wrote a great ballad titled “Against the Wind…stronger now still just running…against the wind”.

When a pilot encounters head wind during flight it can be a challenge. Fuel consumption is increased as air speed decreases. The time it takes to reach a destination increases. Stress and fatigue can set in. But did you know it is preferable to take off and land “against the wind”? Why? Because the increased force of that head wind causes “lift” on the wings which is the force that makes planes fly.

A good steady head wind actually makes take-offs and landings easier, more comfortable and effective. So the next time you sense a head wind in life, ask yourself whether it has been provided to allow more lift for a better take off to a new place in life or whether it is there to afford a safer, smoother landing from where you have just come.

Tail Wind

Next let’s talk about tail wind. This is just the opposite from a head wind. We tend to think of tail wind as favorable. During flight that might be true. It can serve to push us forward, reduce effort and speed the time towards the destination.

But did you know it is the most difficult force with which to reckon during take off and landing? At those times, it actually impairs control, reduces efficiency and creates danger.

Maybe in life we need to be cautious of the perceived tail winds. Rather than gliding along with them, we need to watching for hindrances to gaining new achievement or resolving old challenges.

Cross Wind

The final force is cross wind. All things considered, crosswind is the most challenging of all situations. That is true in flying as well as life.

Crosswind means what it implies… a force crossing you at an angle to the direction you intend to fly. During flight, a cross wind will blow you “off course”. A constant watch must be given to direction and compass heading while flying in crosswinds. There is no cruising during crosswind conditions. It is a constant battle.

Yes, this is me on a round trip cross country from Houston to Shreveport, flying a Piper Archer PA71.

Take off and landing is even more severe. Very special techniques are required to manage a crosswind situation. This is why you see planes doing a crab landing, angling sideways right before touchdown. In some situations the crosswind can be so severe that its force exceeds the designed strength of the air frame on the airplane, which makes the good pilot seek an alternative landing site, one where the winds are more favorable.

Life has crosswind too. It is the skill and grace with which we handle life’s crosswinds that determines our ultimate success. Failure to recognize and manage a crosswind can cause certain disaster. Either we ignore the presence of that crosswind or we acknowledge it but underestimate the consequences. Forging ahead means grave results.

So next time you feel a certain extraordinary force influencing your life, consider the pilot. Is the wind you feel one of these? If so, which one and how will you choose to handle it?

If you need help discerning the winds in your path right now or want to find better ways to navigate those winds, schedule a time for a free consultation.

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Leadership Playlist Built by Experience

Great Play List

I like a good play list as much as the next guy. Tunes I pay attention to are ones that have grown in my heart and mind over the years. Artists who hit a particular chord with me stay on my list a long time. I don’t shuffle all that often. However, I am open to new songs from young, aspiring artists.

Great Play List
Great Play List

Just like a good play list, the tapestry of leadership has been woven from experience shared with mentors, old bosses, and sometimes, younger, aspiring leaders too.

I like to look back at the influences that are now colorful threads in my own tapestry of life. I find it helpful to do a look back on a regular basis. By looking back, I get a fresh renewal of ideas and values.

Who Made You Be You?

Think back on your own story. Who contributed to getting you where you are today? More importantly, who made you who you are today?

No doubt there are experiences and little bits of perspective sprinkled all across the weaving. Good and bad, do’s and don’ts, to be versus not to be.

It is the wise who can take a bad experience and learn from it. Lessons like “OK, that’s NOT something I ever want to do again” are just as valuable as the good experiences.

If you are blessed, you will have a series of people who made great contributions to shaping you to be you. Perhaps they shaped values and principles for you. Or maybe they taught valuable lessons with tangible results. Some likely helped you set personal boundaries. Was there anyone who told you about the power in YES and NO!

Revisiting the Milestones

I firmly believe there is value in revisiting the milestones in your life. Take a moment to reflect on the mentors and their lessons. Recall the details of what they were teaching you.

Renew and refresh your own understanding of those key teaching points. Remind yourself of the golden truth you may have once learned.

We get beat up in day to day living. We forget things. Or more likely, things get fuzzy in our minds. We forget the distinct edges of the key principles we once learned.

Values get compromised and worn down.

This is why taking time to reflect and renew your core beliefs and strengths is so important.

We’re a Product of our Environment

There is little denying the fact that we are the sum of our parts. Whether good or bad, the experiences from the earlier chapters of life shape us and make us become what we are today.

You can reject the bad things that happen. That is fine. Going through a particularly bad chapter in life will make you stronger if you choose to learn from that experience. Take away a lesson. Let it simmer and ruminate into a contributing element of growth.

You can choose to be bitter, but that is very counterproductive. Rather, choose to take the best possible outcome. Even if the lesson is “I never want to be that way”, it is  a lesson that can mean something significant for your own growth as a person and as a leader.

Stroll Down Memory Lane

Allow yourself to recall the best parts of the learning you’ve experienced through life. Don’t get caught up in  a pity party of lost opportunity or bad choices. Instead reflect on the things you chose to keep. The ones that made you grow. By properly aligning the right experiences, you will see a beautiful path of stepping stones.

Look at the outcome. Celebrate a win. Rejoice in victory. Use that energy to push you forward today. Let it power you through a tough time you may be experiencing right now. Realize that the sun really does come up tomorrow.

Use the best from your life’s tapestry to mold and shape your future from here forward. Hit the replay button on that play list of greatest hits. Love it, use it.

Making Things Bigger Than They Really Are

Chicken Little courtesy Disney Corp

Do you sometimes make things bigger than they really are? Managers and leaders need to be on watch for overstating what is going on. More importantly, they need to throttle their internal reaction to the things around them.

The great social activist Chicken Little was quoted as saying “The sky is falling” when he had merely been struck in the head by a falling acorn.

Chicken Little courtesy Disney Corp
Chicken Little courtesy Disney Corp

Blowing things out of proportion can be a problem if you are the one in charge. Yes, that would be a challenge if you do it on a regular basis.

One of my clients introduced me to a new term – “catastrophizing”. This means making a situation far greater than it really is. The way we entered this discussion was talking about limiting thoughts. I had asked the client to give me some examples of limiting thoughts they suffer. While a few of the answers were the usual, this one surprised me.

Catastrophizing

As an executive, you are confronted with problems almost daily. Things happen; often not as planned. You have to field questions, hear news, and make decisions.

What if everything you were given was turned into something far more tragic? What if something someone failed to do was declared a disaster when, in fact, it is was just a setback or a simple honest mistake?

Think about the energy both emotional and physical you would spend dealing with such catastrophes.

If you act like Chicken Little you will get yourself worked into a panic. You will be running around in a frenzy, stirring up others to join your panic party. Even if you leave others out of it, your own waste of energy and emotional can conflict and confuse the situation.

[shareable cite=”Mark Twain”]There has been much tragedy in my life; at least half of it actually happened.[/shareable]

Why do people do this?

I don’t practice psychology, so I cannot even venture a technical argument as to why some are prone to act this way. However, I can share observation from years of experience on the job.

People who catastrophize often do so for several reasons.

  1. A Sense of Dread –  They are convinced life has been mean to them. The proverbial cup is half empty all the time. Therefore, any new event that arises must be bad. They are blinded to any possibility of a favorable outcome.
  2. Lack of Trust –  People who lose trust in mankind look at problems as people problems, all the time. Their way of thinking says the other person is the reason these things are bad.
  3. No Hope –  Theirs is a world of doom and gloom. They are convinced things are hopeless. In their minds, blue skies are really just a funny shade of gray.

Sadly, I have run into these kinds of co-workers and professionals most of my career. Thank goodness they are not everywhere, nor are they in leadership very often. But when they are, look out.

The biggest problem I see with catastrophizing is the waste of energy and resources. Whether the energy is emotional or physical, the expenditure of energy trying to avoid the catastrophe is great.

The Solution

One of the wisest words I ever heard was the phrase “The problem is not the problem.” Think about that. Whenever you are confronted with what seems like a problem, check first see if what you are being told is a problem is really the problem. Here’s an example.

Missed deadlines are usually a problem anywhere. Unless that deadline is a life or death situation, most missed deadlines are bad, but not the end of the world. Having a missed deadline, though it seems big and real, may not be the problem at all. Rather, the real problem may be with process, procedure, or people. Are the deadlines even reasonable considering the mix of the above elements? Or has someone failed at their task?

Being able to properly discern the root cause of an issue is preferable to simply catastrophizing and running around like Chicken Little.

The sky is not falling. It’s just an acorn.

Leadership and Foundation Repairs

Not long ago, my neighbor had to have some foundation repairs done at his house. I live in an area of the Texas Gulf Coast where there is long term terrain subsidence. Foundations can shift and begin to crack without intervention.

business, entrepreneur, coaching, leadership

If you are not familiar with repairing a foundation, the crew will dig holes around the edges of the slab. The holes go as deep as it takes to hit bedrock. Then concrete piers are poured into the holes. Once the piers dry, shims are used to level the structure, returning the foundation to a true and level condition. Once the piers go in, there is very little movement. The foundation becomes strong and firm again.

Read more

Beating Procrastination at Its Own Game – and Ways to Thrive

People often ask me about ways to beat procrastination. I usually say “I’ll get back to you.” Just kidding.

Everyone procrastinates sometimes, but 20 percent of people chronically avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions—which, unfortunately, are increasingly available. Procrastination in large part reflects our perennial struggle with self-control as well as our inability to accurately predict how we’ll feel tomorrow, or the next day.

procrastinate1

If you do a Google search, there are over 380,000 references to “overcoming procrastination”.

Procrastinators may say they perform better under pressure, but more often than not that’s their way of justifying putting things off. The bright side? It’s possible to overcome procrastination—with effort.

Procrastination is not a problem of time management or of planning. Procrastinators are not different in their ability to estimate time, although they are more optimistic than others. “Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up,” insists Dr. Ferrari (1).

I too struggle with procrastination. From my own observations with decades of clients behind me, plus my own ever-present struggle with it, here are the key reasons for procrastination.

  1. Desire to achieve perfection –  When a normally high energy, high achiever procrastinates, it’s usually due to the desire to achieve perfection. Perfection though is unachievable, especially in most business settings.
  2. Lack of direction –  You can’t leave for a trip if you don’t know where you’re going. Without a good sense of where you want to go with a project or a task, you likely wont want to start.
  3. Self-talk – Procrastinators tell lies to themselves. Such as, “I’ll feel more like doing this tomorrow.” Or “I work best under pressure.” But in fact they do not get the urge the next day or work best under pressure. In addition, they protect their sense of self by saying “this isn’t important.” Another big lie procrastinators indulge is that time pressure makes them more creative. Unfortunately they do not turn out to be more creative; they only feel that way. They squander their resources.
  4. It’s unpleasant –  Not everything we need to do each day is fun and exciting. Things can be downright unappealing, so we put them off.

Here are the most popular ways to overcome procrastination (2).

STEP 1: Recognize you ARE A PROCRASTINATOR.

Here’s a fun little test for you to take. CLICK HERE

Here are some useful indicators that will help you know when you’re procrastinating:

  • Filling your day with low priority tasks from your To Do List.
  • Reading e-mails several times without starting work on them or deciding what you’re going to do with them.
  • Sitting down to start a high-priority task, and almost immediately going off to make a cup of coffee.
  • Leaving an item on your To Do list for a long time, even though you know it’s important.
  • Regularly saying “Yes” to unimportant tasks that others ask you to do, and filling your time with these instead of getting on with the important tasks already on your list.
  • Waiting for the “right mood” or the “right time” to tackle the important task at hand.

Step 2: Work Out WHY You’re Procrastinating

Even if you’re organized, you can feel overwhelmed by the task. You may doubt that you have the skills or resources you think you need, so you seek comfort in doing tasks you know you’re capable of completing. Unfortunately, the big task isn’t going to go away – truly important tasks rarely do. You may also fear success as much as failure. For example, you may think that success will lead to you being swamped with more requests to do this type of task, or that you’ll be pushed to take on things that you feel are beyond you.

Step 3: Adopt Anti-Procrastination Strategies

Procrastination is a habit – a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior. That means that you won’t just break it overnight. Habits only stop being habits when you have persistently stopped practicing them, so use as many approaches as possible to maximize your chances of beating them. Some tips will work better for some people than for others, and for some tasks than others. And, sometimes, you may simply need to try a fresh approach to beat the “procrastination peril”!

These general tips will help motivate you to get moving:

  • Make up your own rewards. For example, promise yourself a piece of tasty flapjack at lunchtime if you’ve completed a certain task. And make sure you notice how good it feels to finish things!
  • Ask someone else to check up on you. Peer pressure works! This is the principle behind slimming and other self-help groups, and it is widely recognized as a highly effective approach.
  • Identify the unpleasant consequences of NOT doing the task.
  • Work out the cost of your time  to your employer. As your employers are paying you to do the things that they think are important, you’re not delivering value for money if you’re not doing those things. Shame yourself into getting going!

If you’re procrastinating because you’re disorganized, here’s how to get organized!

Use Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle to help prioritize your To-Do List so that you cannot try to kid yourself that it would be acceptable to put off doing something on the grounds that it is unimportant, or that you have many urgent things which ought to be done first when, in reality, you’re procrastinating.

eisenhower-box

If you’re putting off starting a project because you find it overwhelming, you need to take a different approach. Here are some tips:

  • Break the project into a set of smaller, more manageable tasks. You may find it helpful to create an action plan.
  • Start with some quick, small tasks if you can, even if these aren’t the logical first actions. You’ll feel that you’re achieving things, and so perhaps the whole project won’t be so overwhelming after all.

If you’re doing it because you find the task unpleasant:

  • Many procrastinators overestimate the unpleasantness of a task. So give it a try! You may find that it’s not as bad as you thought!
  • Hold the unpleasant consequences of not doing the work at the front of your mind.
  • Reward yourself for doing the task.

(1) Quotes courtesy of Psychology Today and Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago, and Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

(2) Other references courtesy of Mindtools.com

Management Vs Leadership

you manage your world

Individuals who have been selected to manage a team are often faced with the most basic challenge. It can be summed up by this simple question: am I going to merely manage this role or will I be a leader?

Young-biz

Management is about getting things done. Leadership is about influencing the people doing it.

Management

Being placed into a management role requires acceptance of a duty to perform. The work unit will have tasks, deadlines, deliverables, or, if you will, a mission. The manager must execute in order for the mission to be completed.

You can achieve good things ‘managing’ a team. You can make work assignments, establish and follow procedures, make good on delivery of assigned tasks, and generally get things to happen.

Data can be accumulated and analyzed for determination of success.

Systems, policies, procedures, and method can be managed. Resources can be budgeted. Waste can be accounted for and remedied as needed. Corrections and process change can happen.

People can be controlled and evaluated for performance. You can take disciplinary action as deemed necessary for poor performance.

Effective management can do all of these things.

Leadership

The ability to move beyond mere management and become a true leader is a much bigger task. Leaders emerge in all walks of life. You do not have to be the CEO to be considered a leader. Even in the smallest recognized unit of the military, the squad, the person in charge is titled the squad leader.

Leadership means different things to different people around the world, and different things in different situations. For example, it could relate to community leadership, religious leadership, political leadership, and leadership of campaigning groups. I am focused on the Western model of individual leadership.

According to the idea of transformational leadership (James Manktelow and Amy Carlson), an effective leader is a person who does the following:

1. Creates an inspiring vision of the future.

In business, a vision is a realistic, convincing and attractive depiction of where you want to be in the future. Vision provides direction, sets priorities, and provides a marker, so that you can tell that you’ve achieved what you wanted to achieve.

2. Motivates and inspires people to engage with that vision.

A compelling vision provides the foundation for leadership. But it’s leaders’ ability to motivate and inspire people that helps them deliver that vision.

3. Manages delivery of the vision.

Leaders must ensure that the work needed to deliver the vision is properly managed – either by themselves, or by a dedicated manager or team of managers to whom the leader delegates this responsibility – and they need to ensure that their vision is delivered successfully.

4. Coaches and builds a team, so that it is more effective at achieving the vision.

A leader will then ensure that team members have the necessary skills and abilities to do their job and achieve the vision. They do this by giving and receiving feedback regularly, and by training and coaching people to improve individual and team performance.

Leadership also includes looking for leadership potential in others. By developing leadership skills within your team, you create an environment where you can continue success in the long term. And that’s a true measure of great leadership.

Leadership brings together the skills needed to do these things.

The Big So What

Having said these things, it is safe to say :

[shareable cite=”Doug Thorpe”]Management is a job while Leadership is a lifestyle.[/shareable]

Yes, managers go home at night and stay awake worrying about the next deadline or the project that is slipping, it feels like a life consuming chore.

Leaders do that too but add a higher plane of thinking about the bigger picture. The drive to achieve the vision keeps all other considerations in check.

Managers have a greater tendency to turn on and turn off their skill sets. Once they are away from work, the motivation to manage things at home or in the community can slack off.

Yet people who have proven themselves as leaders cannot turn off with their work habits. They see vision and opportunity everywhere. They are driven to stand up when a call goes out at church or in the community. Leaders find themselves naturally selected to help various causes of all kinds.

Leaders may not even seek new opportunity, but are tapped by those around them who recognize the innate ability to lead. The “I want that” mentality prompts others to ask a leader to stand in when a project needs a push.

The Academic Debate

For decades colleges and think tanks have debated the question: are leaders born or bred? Any institution set up for higher learning and development will naturally argue that anyone can be taught anything.

Candidly, I happen to subscribe to the notion that the best leaders have some inborn natural gifts. One can argue the Bible is pretty clear about the spiritual gifts people carry and that this is the reason it takes a community to thrive; i.e. no one person has all the gifts and talents to make everything happen. Likewise, not everyone can lead. Only a few are given the gift of leadership.

I know this is an extreme way of thinking. However, in all of my years in business, I can say the numbers support that thinking. By this I mean I have only worked with a rare few dynamic leaders; ones with amazing intuition and insight who see far beyond the current status.

I’ve worked for some amazing managers, yet they didn’t necessary fall into the realm of true leadership. They got things done with bright ideas and dogged determination to push through with boundless energy. AT the end of the day, sadly they weren’t especially inspiring leaders.

[reminder]Where do you think you fall: Manager or Leader?[/reminder]

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