Archives for the month of: May, 2013

Shackleton

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s amazing “Endurance” story detailing a trans-Antarctic expedition is one of the greatest testimonials to relentless willpower in the history of mankind.

LEADERS…are assertive and decisive. The ability to take charge of any situation and promptly move towards a desired outcome is indicative of superior control.

LEADERS…display and maintain a superlative work ethic.  Their determination is infectious to those around them.

LEADERS…exhibit extraordinary passion and enthusiasm to their missions, goals and the people they lead.

LEADERS…are intensely competitive and driven to succeed, at all ethical costs.

LEADERS…even the most dedicated ones, KNOW they can’t do it on their own!  They command the support and collective efforts of their team in order to achieve a common goal.

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand”.                                                                      – Vince Lombardi

 

Empowering your team is essential for enabling successful results.  My experience indicates that employees with the appropriate passion and commitment will often surprise you with what they can produce, if you give them the chance!

LEADERS…encourage decision making.  Provide clear directions, check for understanding, and then let your people go out to create and deliver.

LEADERS…delegate responsibility and then hold their team accountable for generating the desired results.

LEADERS…coach and train to the extent that is required and necessary.  Your staff can execute as long as they are equipped with the knowledge, skills and abilities to produce what you are asking of them.

LEADERS…openly and frequently solicit input from their people and genuinely listen so the feedback can be utilized to improve overall performance.

LEADERS…expand the roles and responsibilities of their subordinates, stirring them towards enrichment and enlargement.

Occasionally, I need to remind myself to let “my ponies run”, avoiding micro-management mode!  Give it a try…you’ll be amazed at the aptitude, attitude and altitude demonstrated when providing your team with the opportunity to be creative and take ownership over challenging scenarios.

empowerment zone

“V” is for VALUE

LEADERS…add value to their organizations by being an inspirational beacon of optimism and accountability.

LEADERS…apply the practice of “MMFI”: Make Me Feel Important.  Their words and actions arouse confidence while letting those they come in contact with know that they are valuable.

LEADERS…catch their staff doing the right things and doing things right; in turn, recognizing and rewarding them for executing on specific expectations.

LEADERS…communicate clearly, consistently and candidly.  Their team knows where they stand, creating an atmosphere of trust.

LEADERS…foster an environment of teamwork.  The workplace becomes a high performance operation that exudes collaboration and solidarity.

How much more valuable would you be to your team and organization if you lived by these values every single day?

value

 

I” is for INFLUENCE

LEADERS…get things done through influencing others.  Leadership guru John Maxwell professes thatleadership is influence”.

—LEADERS…establish specific expectations so that direct reports are crystal clear on what their contributions to strategic operations of the business should be.

—LEADERS…provide constructive feedback.  Their direction is positive, stimulating, encouraging and reinforcing, versus any destructive form of “reinforcement” that brings people down.

—LEADERS…measure performance & hold their team accountable.  What get’s measured get’s done.

—LEADERS…cast a big shadow.  The influence of the leader on their team is evident as a truly great leader is admired and respected as having an influential impact on the lives of those who he or she leads.

Maxwell influences

During the next few blogs, I’m going to break down leadership into a few critical, essential components that will provide a prescription for how one can truly “LIVE” the role of an exemplary Leader.

Today, we start with “L” for a brief definition of Leaders…

LEADERS are VISIONARIES.  In plotting the vision for their organizations, there is a passion for change, creation and success.  These people see MORE, see FURTHER, and see EARLIER than others do.

LEADERS ensure that the business VISION is clearly understood, and further engage their entire team for participation and commitment towards following a shared path.

LEADERS lead by EXAMPLE in doing, not just talking.  They jump right into the action and work side-by-side with their subordinates in order to achieve a mutual goal.

LEADERS do the RIGHT THING…always.  Their behavior demonstrates the standards and values for everyone else under their command.

Perhaps most importantly, LEADERS must be willing to put their TEAM’S performance ahead of their own egos.

Bryant Ldrship

Pick a setting…your workplace, golf course, restaurant, classroom, any conversation, etc. and conduct an attention observation experiment.

The bombardment of real-time, rapid-fire information at our fingertips has created a world where our focus is constantly pinballing from one “interruption” to the next.

Between cell phone alerts, email intrusions, new message pop-ups, etc., it’s a wonder how one can truly concentrate on any item for more than a few minutes at a time.  These disruptions wreak havoc on any significant efforts that require undivided attention…if we allow it.

Two personal favorites are: the business “meetings” where attendees spend their time looking at  their laptops or mobile devices; and the “face-to-face” conversations wherein eyes are focused on computer screens or  I-phones during most of the discussion.

You have the personal power and discipline to manage the electronic leashes should you choose to do so!

electronic leash II

Citing a Blinding Flash of the Obvious (BFO), an essential component of  leadership is the strength to communicate…effectively, efficiently, and frequently!

Effectively means all proper messages are being delivered at the appropriate times and the recipients understand what it is you are trying to say.

Efficiently entails using the appropriate form of communication, either synchronous (real-time and collaborative, i.e. face-to-face, phone conversations, Skype, Go-To-Meeting) or asynchronous (get to it when you can, i.e. email, letters, social media when you manage it).  Determine what is the ideal tool (discussion, email, meeting, etc.) and use that method.  I’m amazed how often someone two doors or cubicles away will spend time creating an email to share a message with that other person!

“Frequently” represents what I find to be the biggest opportunity area for managers and leaders.  Those in your command long for communication so they can feel like they’re part of the action and are aware as to what’s going on.  The need for constant coaching, feedback, status reports and recognition is essential to the performance, and retention, of your team.

If you asked your subordinates as well as bosses how you’re doing in these areas, what would that challenge reveal???

commun

It is human nature for people and employees to be uncomfortable with change.  We often become content with the way things are, don’t want to “rock the boat” or disrupt the status quo.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, if organizations not only want to compete but ultimately WIN, change is virtually mandatory.

Having gone through numerous corporate transition periods, whether it be rapid growth, adjusting to radical technology introductions, downsizing, or mergers & acquisitions, the most common mistake that stands in the way of “buy-in” from team members seems to be poor communication.

As lives become disrupted and the future becomes uncertain, fear sets in.  Members of the organization are not typically willing to accept change quickly and enthusiastically!

What becomes critical is proactive communication.  Leaders must provide a clear understanding of why the change needs to occur, an exciting vision about what it means for the future, and an honest explanation of how it impacts EVERYONE in the company.

Perhaps most important for the “change-agents” is to be positive and motivational if they expect the transition period to succeed.  Of course, those traits can be used on a daily basis as well!

therefore change is good

OrganizingIn the 1800’s, theorist Henri Fayol, a director of a French mining company, was credited with breaking management down into four primary functions:
Planning, Organizing, Directing and Controlling.

Planning: encompasses the concept of Vision…looking at current state, seeing the future, and then doing the applicable forecasting, goal setting and determination of actions to be taken.

Organizing: deals with designing the appropriate structure, and consequent use of resources to accomplish the aforementioned actions and goals.

Directing: ensures a focus on the correct activities, while leading and motivating the team towards the desired results.

Controlling: observes that the necessary actions are being carried out according to the predetermined plan.

In order to not overcomplicate the management process, this simple checklist serves as a useful tool for any leader to “look in the mirror” and conduct a self-inspection as to whether they are executing on all four of the fundamental functions.