You Are Braver Than You Believe

I concur…

Practical Practice Management

Dr-Seuss-Why-fit-in-when-you-were-born-to-stand-out

“Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem,

smarter than you think and twice as beautiful as you’ve ever imagined.” – Dr. Seuss

I love this quote from Dr. Seuss because when the unexpected happens and takes us by surprise, we can forget for a moment our true abilities and who we really are.  Take care this Thursday and look for the good in all you encounter today!

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WHAT IS LEADERSHIP?

It is lifting a person’s VISION to high sights.  The raising of a person’s PERFORMANCE to a higher standard.  The building of a PERSONALITY beyond its normal limitations.

What if a child was running your business?

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Like most people in the business world I’ve wondered what it would be like to have a child running my business or company?  To be clear, I am not talking about about a teenager, I am referring to 7-10 year old.  So humor me, and let’s take a look.

BUILDING TRUST – Children are notoriously transparent so I believe this would be a strong suit.  Think about it, there would be very few times in which you didn’t know what was on his/her mind so worrying about the little things that slow down productivity would be off the table.  Also, since children really do like and need human interaction (for the most part) there would never be a lack of communication or at least a connection.  Therefore, unlike some business situations understanding what your leader truly wants from you would be simple and quite refreshing. Lastly, as all of us know, children have an innocence about them that is wonderful and endearing so it would be easy to trust that whatever they are saying is what they really mean.

EMPATHY – Experiences shape our demeanor, our style, and our views of people and situations.  The more experiences that we have, in some situation, the more cynical we become, especially as it relates to people.  Children are more likely to forgive mistakes (at times forget them) that their team members may make because they do not know any better.  They are definitely more likely to understand when someone is not quite right in a moment, which as adults we struggle with at times.  Having a child as your business owner would also (more than likely) present very black and white situations when it came to understanding people because of the erratic emotional swings but I have to think at the end of the day a child is more apt to display the level of compassion that all of us have had at an earlier time in our lives.

ACCOUNTABILITY – Yes, this would be the most challenging part about having a child as your supervisor and based upon experience age is not the only barrier that stymies some leaders in this category.  The bright side is, separate and aside from the occasional temper tantrum, kids do not filter very well so you would definitely know if improvement was needed.  The other positive that a child may bring to this leadership trait is being very persistent about a task or duty because once they want something, it’s obvious and seems to not go away until the task is completed.  Interesting, because in the business world this could be called having a “vision or singular focus to build consistency”.

CHANGE MANAGEMENT – Some could argue that this would be a total disaster (it very well could be) but I would say that children have a lower resistance to change agility than adults can have due to their lack of exposure.  Think about it, the most difficult things about change in the business environment are the stories we tell ourselves due to a lack of communication.  That being said, most children have an inquisitive nature as it is, so they would be more likely to ask for help and get as many people involved as possible.  The next item to consider with change is since most children have a lower attention span (like most adults) and the desire to have a little fun they seemingly would be more aggressive with wanting to shake things up on a more regular basis.

Okay, I know that some of this is a bit far-fetched but is it really?  I guess the message is being a  leader is a much more about the human elements of caring, communication, and deciding to build a culture that people can thrive in than we make it at times.  Of course a child would struggle with building a strategy that would sustain a business but I also believe having the intestinal fortitude to surround themselves with the right people who can do those things are signs of a good leader as well.  Sound familiar?

 

 

 

Self-Awarenes, the great eqaulizer…

selfawarenessStaying ahead of the curve as it relates to the business landscape is truly a full-time job nowadays.  Not only do business owners, managers, and all leaders have to be savvy enough to know when to push and pull, they also have to know how and why they are doing it!  One of the true indicators that a leader has the pulse of their organization and can pull the trigger when need be is the level of self-awareness that they are willing to accept.

The reason I captured the terminology “willing to accept” in reference to self-awareness is because that is the difference maker.  All of us have some level of awareness in relation to the impact that we have, can have, or have had on people and our teams BUT if we are willing to accept the impact that we have had there is always room for growth.  To be able to reach the point of acceptance there are three items a leader should embrace for the greater good.

1) ASK THE QUESTIONS THAT MAY MAKE YOU CRINGE – One of the oldest leadership philosophies out there is “no news is good news”.  Self-aware leaders want news that is related to the impact they are having on people and the best way to understand that is to ask.  I am not a fan of written surveys although they can be insightful at times but I would rather build a good enough repoir so that an impromptu or scheduled listening session is the norm.  If done appropriately, asking the tough questions relating to the culture and vision you are creating can facilitate wonderful moments of clarity and growth for the leader and all involved.  Once again, this may sting a bit at first but pain is temporary and improvement is magic!

2) SURROUND YOURSELF WITH TRUSTED CRITICS – Feedback is awesome when it is coming from someone who is invested in you and your success.  Whether it is a mentor, a colleague, or a subordinate a leader must have a true circle of individuals that care enough about him/her to keep it real.  It is very unlikely that people in leadership roles will hear the truth about how they are doing on a regular basis and it is important to not only hear it but to be able to understand the message without hesitation.  One of the reasons it is so difficult for leaders to be self-aware is due to the fact that many people want to either tell them they are doing a great job or they hear nothing at all.  Building an emotional connection with trusted colleagues is a great way to stay grounded and receive feedback that is actionable and trustworthy.

3) INVEST IN YOURSELF – All of us know that it is very difficult to invest time in your own development but it is a necessity if you want to have a resemblance of being self-aware.  Even if the investment is a half hour a day or an hour a week to simply read, it is well worth the time.  If you truly want to go all in, hiring a coach or attending leadership seminars or programs are great investments.  The word “invest” is the juggernaut here because whether it is in time or finances we want to see the results.  In my opinion the ability to reflect, grow, and learn is priceless to a leader and the people you serve so don’t be afraid to go out on a limb because there will be a payback.

At the end of the day, great leaders are aware of what their strengths and weaknesses are and they can identify the reality that they have created so they have an opportunity to build a new one.

Routine and consistency are the keys to change in an organization.

e2206b51cdb99540247dd683fcd52f66An individual or a company that has had inconsistent performance over time can usually be attributed to a lack of routine.  All of us want the freedom to do our work with minimal distraction and noise from our bosses and others.  While this is admirable and can be validated in some cases, it is not the answer or the strategy for long-term sustainable success.  We must understand that structure, standards, culture, and routines are the basis of what an organization can build on.  If you do not have the most basic structures in place all of the aspirational thoughts that a leader has can become a level of frustration.  Here are three good reasons to implement and maintain routines in a company.

1) WHETHER WE ADMIT IT OR NOT, WE WANT TO KNOW THE RULES- Even the most independent individuals want to know what they can or cannot get away with.  If my supervisor has never set the expectation that I need to be at the office (ready to work) at 9am I will definitely walk in the door at 9am and feel good about it!  It is human nature to push the limits and good leaders understand and embrace that, which means they are always attempting to provide that environment and sentiment for things that really matter like the next marketing strategy.  But if we do not have simple expectations it can become very difficult to get past the trivial opportunities and that will stifle the growth of an organization.

2) WHEN A LEADER’S BEHAVIOR IS ERRATIC, SO ARE YOUR RESULTS- All of us have heard the old saying that the team takes the personality of the leader, and it’s true.  If you, as a leader, have the same amount of passion for every aspect and department within your business that will resonate with all team members.  The fact of the matter is, that is the kind of water cooler talk you want instead of the kind that will slowly erode your culture.  To be specific, if the entire organization understands the importance of their role and that importance is exemplified in the consistent interactions the leader has with the team it will foster and enhance the belief that “what I do is important for US to be successful”.  That attitude and demeanor sets up a company to face future challenges head on and with confidence.

3) MAJOR IN THE MINORS- To use a sports reference, if your football team has a poor offensive line it is really difficult to build an elaborate and dynamic offensive scheme.  In layman’s terms, as a leader, you must make sure that your organization has mastered the core of your business model prior to implementing more difficult strategic plans.  If you run a ditch digging company, you should make sure that your basic hole digging skills are so good that any new hire can come in be an expert within 30 days.  If not, you sure can’t graduate on to skillfully carving ditches based upon a customers request.  If the standard (and your brand promise) is that we will dig you the best hole that anyone has ever seen, then you better be able to execute on that every single time!  Once you do, the add-ons become fun and creative because you have a solid foundation of skill, expertise, and confidence.

At the end of the day, leading an organization to master the basics can and will lead to change and growth.  The leader sets the tone for what that level of consistency should and will be so set routine expectations now to create future opportunity, always.

A genuine “Thank You” is a great leadership trait.

ThankYouThe two words continually underutilized in business today are “Thank You.”.  We have gotten to the point in society in which people all over the world add thanks to their email signature so they don’t forget to type it?  I mean, I understand not wanting to forget to say thank you but there is a lack of authenticity when you see that it is obviously “pre-written’ with no real thought behind it.

Appreciating employees for their contributions to an organization has become somewhat of a mantra, and deservedly so. But when there is true meaning behind that appreciation studies have shown that it can improve engagement and productivity incrementally. That being said, there are many creative ways to show your team that you are grateful for the work that they do and I am pretty sure that as you read this (somewhere in the world) there is an assigned task force meeting right now in a boardroom to figure out how to show gratitude towards their employees.  Don’t get me wrong, I do believe all organizations should continue the journey towards increasing engagement but I am not sure it is as difficult as some have made it.

IT TAKES LESS THAN 5 SECONDS to say or type “thanks” or “thank you”.  Seriously, I literally just did it!  We are all pressed for the time but when someone does what you’ve requested them do or they go above and beyond the call of duty saying thank you should be an expectation.  Of all the things a leader has to do, from a time perspective, this one ranks in the top five all day every day.

IT WILL MAKE SOMEONES DAY whether you believe it or not.  Interestingly enough we take for granted that employees view their leaders in a different light and sometimes that light is way more bright than we anticipate. In other words, they think and talk more about their leaders than the actual organization and saying thanks for what they are doing may seem like simple words but those words can make a difference in someone’s day or week.

SAYING IT WITH MEANING does not mean a leader should shed tears every time they say it, but it does mean it should be authentic.  Looking someone in the eyes and saying thank you is much more appropriate than finishing a conversation and saying thanks as you turn and walk away.  Sincerity when appreciating someone is the true measure of the impact that a leader can have on an individual and we must not take for granted the opportunity to show vulnerability.

So make saying “thank you” a core competency within your organization and then have fun adding on all of the other cool and exciting engagement ideas because you will have a solid foundation of appreciation.  “THANKS” for reading this!

Leaders, can we all get along?

stock-photo-four-multi-color-puzzle-pieces-combined-representing-team-concept-100504165The quote “can we all get along” was of course made famous by Rodney King in 1992 during the notorious Los Angeles riots.  Since then the quote has been misinterpreted and incorrectly captured over the years, as well as, being made into a punch line.  While the quote itself stands alone and is referring to a much deeper level of injustice, I want to relate these words to the leaders and future mentors of the business world.

In today’s business community there are and always will be hot topics and trends that tell our current story and shape the future.  But there are also philosophies and themes that will never be fads, they will instead be the subjects that we can always point to as predictable indicators for success.  Here are three that fall into that category.

IF THE TEAM WINS WE ALL WIN : Even if you have never been a member of a sports team, all of us have the basic understanding that bringing a group of people together to achieve a common goal is hard work.  Getting everyone to buy into a vision that should be larger than an individuals personal needs is challenging enough but then you add personalities, opinions, and egos to the mix and it can be as they say “a hot mess”.  But that is what a leader’s job is and if done correctly the ceiling continues to rise for that particular group.  If and when a team becomes a true “TEAM” regardless of an individual members business beliefs or opinions, the goals of the team become the most important endeavor on everyone’s plate.  Because we are humans and should be defiant at times, all voices should be heard but if the vision has been set by the leader the team will rally for the greater good and the larger accomplishments will eventually be broken down to praise individual performance accordingly.

SHARING AND STEALING IDEAS: Years ago it simply was not the norm to come up with a great concept or idea and willingly share it with your colleagues or peers.  As a matter of fact, back in the day it was frowned upon to let the cat out of the bag even within the same office or organization for fear that someone else might get the credit!  Oh times have changed and thank goodness because in today’s business world there are several companies that will ask that their leaders have the core competency of sharing best practices to improve the organization.  While there are plenty of talented leaders in the world, there will always be a lack of GREAT ideas that bubble up and if those ideas are exposed to everyone it can go from great to spectacular in a hurry.  Reason being, if those ideas are shared openly with the intent of improving the operation, the financials, or the experience of the team, execution is much more consistent and seamless enterprise wide.  When it becomes cultural to share and steal ideas it becomes natural to want what is best for the brand.

HELPING THOSE AROUND YOU UP THEIR GAME: Whether you are business owner, manager, or CEO a major responsibility that you have is to improve the performance of those that you work with.  It has been chronicled for years that elite athletes on championship teams have a positive impact on the people that they play with.  I know that it is easy to connect this concept to developing talent but that is not what I am referring to.  I am referring to a leader having the ability to role model the behavior that is necessary for the team to be successful.  The best and most recent example I can think of is Derek Jeter, the Captain!  Trust me when I say that I am not and have never been a Yankees fan, I can appreciate and marvel at the way that he led all those teams for all those years with hundreds of different personalities.  His demeanor and consistency at work was tough to deny and any player that joined that team knew that he was going to show all of them what it took to win and be successful.  Great leaders should strive towards picking up every individual with the thought and vision in mind that if everyone is connected and at their best WE will succeed.  If and when this is done successfully the expectation becomes so clear that the team will self correct (if necessary) at the appropriate time without hesitation.

Yes, I understand it is more than just getting along but a leader should have the intestinal fortitude to ask the question every now and then on the road towards continuous improvement.

The 3 reasons leaders should practice transparency.

Trust-Magnify-300x300_jpg1) CULTURE OF FREEDOM   Transparency in a leader translates into a culture of vulnerability and respect.  In today;s business environment people want to relate to their leaders on a real level and sincerity is being role modeled at the top of the organization everyone tends to want to be a part of the solution.  When people know and see that the leader is human and is open to taking responsibility for his/her mistakes, the team is bound to rally around the cause and be willing to go the extra mile.  There is a sense of freedom and that will inevitably spark creativity.

2)  PERSONAL LEARNING   If we as leaders are open to ideas and constantly seeking counsel that will open the door to everyone around you wanting to learn more and improve upon their skill set.  One of the most difficult things that leaders face is creating the time and space for personal learning for themselves and within their organization.  With people being busy with business we forget that sharpening the saw is equally as important for the road ahead.  It just takes the leader to provide the space for dialogue about what they are working on and how it will help him/her improve in their role to make it a priority for all.  After all, if the leader is investing the time to improve and is open about what he/she is working on the entire organization becomes interested in prioritizing time to grow themselves.

3)  ACCOUNTABILITY   Transparency facilitates accountability.  Leaders are always setting the tone, sharing priorities, and following up on their vision.  But there is absolutely nothing wrong with a leader wanting to be held accountable by their subordinates or others.  As a matter of fact, if a leader truly wants long-term sustainable success, he/she will ask the team to hold them accountable to the standard that they are setting.  When the leader is transparent enough to ask the team to hold them accountable the message is sent that we are all in this together and we are only as strong as the team member standing right next to us. At the end of the day, accountability can be the secret sauce to a business being successful, especially if the leader is seeking and providing feedback in a transparent manner.