Posts Tagged management
Two areas drive my passion and practice. They “need” one another. And in my work with churches, businesses, educational institutions and start-up operations, these 2 THINGS really matter. At the end of this post you can see how I help leaders of quality organizations in these 2 areas. See if you can spot them on this list below.
- Clear Mission
- Competent Leadership
- A Great Team
- Essential Funding
- Creative Workplace
- A Visionary Person
- Strong Community
- Recognition for Work
- Ownership by All
- Enjoy My Work
I chose Competent Leadership and Strong Community – and here is why.
I develop leaders.
I speak at conferences.
I attend conferences.
This week, I attended the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. Lot’s of enthusiasm and inspiration, great talks and encouraging moments. I took my family and 5 of my honors students. We found the experience exciting and energizing. Like many others, that is why we go. It is an emotional thrill, and leaders need a leadership lift whenever we can get one.
Many of the speakers acknowledged this kind of event is a REMINDER event. We need to hear what we already know, and be inspired again to plug away, stay the course, and lead well. And often we gain a new insight or have an “aha!” moment. These are truly valuable.
But what happens after the thrill is gone? It is the age-old conference dilemma. In a few days the buzz is gone, the notebook goes on the shelf, the twitter frenzy dies down and people return to the same challenges, problems, lousy bosses, fundraising shortfalls and HR headaches.
Am I being pessimistic? Should we stop going to conferences? NO! Let me be clear. I love conferences! I love speaking at them and going to them! I love hanging with other leaders and getting to know their stories, successes and challenges. This is essential for every leader!
I am always intrigued by what is said in commencement speeches. Steve Jobs’ famous 2005 commencement address at Stanford is one of the most Googled. His “stay hungry, stay foolish” theme really resonated with listeners. If you never heard it, it is a real gem. You can watch it here.
This June, at my alma mater’s graduation ceremonies, Princeton’s departing President, Shirley Tilghman, referred to Jeff Bezos’ commencement address to graduates in 2010. Though not as memorable or as well-known as Jobs’ talk, Bezos offered a series of questions for leaders or at least what every leader should be asking.
Bezos is Founder and CEO of Amazon.com and is a Princeton Class of 1986 graduate. His remarks challenged graduating seniors to consider 10 key questions. Here they are for your consumption.
1) Will inertia be your guide, or will you follow your passions?
2) Will you follow dogma, or will you be original?
3) Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?
4) Will you wilt under criticism, or will you follow your convictions?
5) Will you bluff it out when you are wrong, or will you apologize?
6) Will you guard your heart against rejection, or will you act when you fall in love?
7) Will you play it safe, or will you be a little bit swashbuckling?
8) When it’s tough, will you give up, or will you be relentless?
9) Will you be a cynic, or will you be a builder?
10) Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?
I certainly was challenge by almost all of these. I did not feel a sense of guilt or failure so much as new resolve to grow and risk in these areas. Numbers 1, 6, and 9 have particular meaning for me at this moment in life and leadership.
How about you? I suggest you reflect honestly on the list, and choose your top 2-3 questions for further investigation and focus. Leaders – especially those who share leadership or have collaborative styles – will have to take some risks that will cause discomfort and leave you vulnerable to failure or criticism.
But what other options are there? A life filled with woulda-coulda-shoulda regrets and a leadership legacy what-if’s and what-might-have-beens?
Not for me. And I hope not for you.
Fallon has made a hilarious spoof of saying thanks on his show. If you have not seen the regular segment, here are a few off the net at (http://thankyoujimmyfallon.tumblr.com) – so have a good laugh.
Thank you, salad tongs, or as Shaq calls you, tweezers.
Thank you, dolls, for being one missing eye away from being the creepiest thing ever.
Thanks you, hors d’oeuvres, for being appetizers that moved to France and got all snooty.
I wonder what it would look like for followers to say “thank you” to their leaders. What would they say? Sarcastic ones like Fallon’s might sound like this:
Thank you, leaders, for taking all the credit for our success and still making me feel great about my job.
Thank you, leaders, for caring about my opinion, even though you already made your decision two weeks ago.
Thank you, leaders, for adding 10 hours to my week without adding even 10 dollars to my salary.
Thank you, leaders, for letting me have this little gray cubical in the corner with the flickering white light…I always wanted to know what prison felt like.
It would be much better to hear…
Thank you, leaders, for the sacrifices you make and opportunities you provide, even though it is not part of your job to do so.
Thank you, leaders, for cheering on my success, even when it gets me more attention and recognition than you received.
Thank you, leaders, for listening to my thoughts, ideas and opinions while you are in the decision-making process – especially when you actually use some of them!
Thank you, leaders, for providing an exciting and creative workspace so we can all leverage our creativity and look forward to our time in the office.
Also, I realize as a leader I need to be in the “thank you” business – genuinely. An attitude of gratitude is always inspiring to others. Motivational guru Zig Ziglar built a business around the whole practice of saying thanks. Keep an Attitude of Gratitude
Leaders who really care about followers must recognize they are in the gratitude business – both giving and receiving.
What if your team heard comments like these from you today?
Thanks, Mike, for your provocative and keen insights at yesterday’s team meeting. It challenged me to really think about this from a different perspective. Jenna, I appreciate your willingness to ask hard questions and dig deeper into the problems we have to tackle. Kevin, your reports are timely and accurate – that means a lot to us when we are making such crucial decisions.
What people thank you for is what they remember you for.
For what actions and attitudes might your “followers” say thanks today?
To whom (and for what) can you express thanks today?
We are smack in the middle of baseball season heading to the July All-Star break. Despite this we are in the middle of the ice hockey finals. Still! Normally my interest for this drops by May because the season is too long, baseball is up and running and it is just too warm outside to think about ice hockey.
But my interest this year goes well past May because the Chicago Blackhawks are in the finals. Last night they played the Bruins in one of the longest playoff games in NHL history. At the start of the 3rd overtime period it was still 3-3.
Whether it’s baseball, hockey, or just the local beer softball league, everyone expects to play a normal game. But sometimes it’s tie at the end of regulation and the teams play overtime. In the playoffs you compete until someone wins or everyone dies from exhaustion. (Of course, in the guys-over-40 softball league it’s just as intense– but if you run out of beer, the game is called and everyone heads to the bar.)
Playing extra innings is hard enough. Weariness sets in and sheer intensity of competition takes its toll on the body and the mind. Emotions run thin and a single mistake can cost you the game. Everyone has to take it up a notch at the time when they are least capable of doing so.
But leading in extra innings is even harder.
It is especially difficult for the player-coach, the guy or gal who has to perform at the top of their game while motivating and guiding the rest of the team. Overtime will test your leadership ability in ways that other challenges cannot for the sheer fact that so much more energy, stamina, and focus are required.
Here are a few tips on how to lead when there is more game left on the clock than there is in the players.
1) Acknowledge the reality of the challenge. This is no time for fake, rah-rah cheerleading that basically communicates, “C’mon guys, this isn’t any big deal.” It IS a big deal. Getting the project done, preparing the presentation, or solving the crisis really matters. Let your team know that YOU know this is not just really important – it is also going to be hard.
2) Discern what is “doable hard” versus “destructive hard.” Working harder in overtime does not mean everyone becomes a crazy workaholic and winds up quitting when the project is over. People have to juggle the extra work in a way that considers family commitments and personal health. If every week at work is another overtime crisis it will ultimately crush morale, deplete leadership resources and produce an inferior product or service.
Some organizations use abusive work practices to force “extra innings” for employees. Famously, it is Wall Street financial companies, urban hospitals and top-end law firms who create insane work hours to weed out the “weak” and get more bang for their buck. It is illegal in some cases and demeaning in at best. Organizations that pay “part-time” people for 32 hours (to avoid paying for health benefits) but “allow” them to work well past that are ethically bankrupt.
3) Focus the energy. In sports you have to coach tired players and create a winning game plan. You cannot use all the resources in the first few minutes hoping for the quick kill. If you fail, you are in big trouble because you might have another 30, 60 or even 90 minutes of game time ahead. So get your team members focused on what they do best, and help them draft a long-term approach. Doing what they do best will leverage the energy they have. Don’t ask everyone to help with everything. It gets chaotic, and wastes time you do not have.
4) Deal directly with complainers. When the going gets tough the complainers get grumpy. You and the team cannot tolerate this – it saps energy, wastes time, and damages morale. Pull the offenders aside, look ‘em in the eye and let them know that attitude is everything, especially in overtime.
5) Outwork your team. In OT great captains and managers rise to a new level of commitment, energy, and focus. You cannot push others to stretch while you operate at the normal pace and level. Let the team see that you are willing to do the extra work to get the job done. It is demoralizing to serve on teams and staffs where you outwork the leaders, and get none of the perks, notoriety, vacation time, or income their leaders receive. It is sad.
6) Finally, play to win, not just survive. Yes, look at the potential for a long overtime. You might need 6 pitchers in extra innings, so be strategic in their deployment. But don’t settle for survival. Get the team together and determine what the goal is, what “victory” looks like and then get after it. If it just drags on, then energy wanes, the team gets distracted, and the victory goes to others.
The captains and coaches of the Blackhawks led well in OT. They rotated players on lines, using shorter shifts, called time outs, worked a clear strategy, and led by example. It was a winning combination. A 4-3 victory well into the 3rd overtime.
Imagine how good that must feel today!
Photo Credit: http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=673963
Avoid These 5 Big Leadership Mistakes
Not long ago CEO Ron Johnson was fired from JC Penney. Brad Tuttle, who covers business and personal finance for TIME believes there were 5 main reasons.
1) He misread the customer
2) He failed to test ideas in advance before going to market
3) He alienated core customers
4) He did not understand or honor the JC Penney brand
5) He did not respect the JC Penney leadership or culture
If you want to read the online article, click here.
Let’s learn from these leadership mistakes for our teams, groups and organizations.
1) Know your client. Whether you lead a church, auto repair shop, university or grocery store, you had better know who your customer is. A friend of mine is launching a consulting venture. He’s an experienced and successful businessman. But he has worked hard at understanding who his customer is – not hopes to be or can be. But who it is!
What kind of person are you speaking to? What are their struggles and needs? How do they make decisions? How can you serve them (not how do they serve your agenda)?
2) Test big ideas. Untested “big splash” ideas often fail. In the 1968 P&G put “potato chips” in a can – a great idea. Millions tried them, but never bought more. They tasted awful. It was not a potato chip, as expected. It was a snack chip. A simple taste test in key markets would have changed everything. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pringles
A large church asks the congregation to eat only rice, beans and water for a week to understand life in poverty. But many could not participate and felt guilty. These included diabetics, people with illnesses, smaller children, students in rigorous sports, the elderly, and many who labored hours outdoors.
But what if leaders allowed the congregation to come up with ideas, tested them for a few days, and then shared choices – like getting to know a poor person, serving the needy at a shelter, wearing the same clothes all week, eating a limited diet, not brushing your teeth, etc. Pick a way, do it and then tell stories about the experience. They misunderstood the client, and failed to test their idea.
3) Engage your core customer or audience. This is a classic error. The new team of leaders or mid-level managers does not understand the culture, existing staff, key volunteers (in non profits), and the core customer base. Instead of first seeking to understand, they ignore both the customer and key insiders, and basically impose a new vision and strategy on the organization. And it’s a mess. If you have been on the receiving end of this kind of “change” initiative, you know why it failed and why it hurt.
It takes years to recover sometimes. The Penney turnaround will take some time. But if you invest in customers, it will pay off for you and them. Here’s a good HBR article for more info on that.
4) Honor the brand. Customers are more important than your brand. But the brand is important. There is a reason the organization has come this far. Don’t be eager to toss out the past. Even if you have been hired engineer a turnaround, be cautious before dumping a deeply-established brand. Here is how Customer Growth Partners analyst Craig Johnson described what the CEO had done:
“Penney had been run into a ditch when he took it over. But, rather than getting it back on the road, he’s essentially set it on fire.”
Poor management was replaced with mismanagement. The core values behind the brand must be carefully considered before re-branding or initiating great change. “We make children smile” is a brand promise you want to keep if you are a toy manufacturer. But HOW you keep that promise can change. Be wise.
5) Respect the organization. If you have been on the receiving end of a leadership transition, you understand how valuable this is when driving change. The brand, core culture, committed employees and loyal customers must be honored. It does not mean that you pretend it was all good. But you can respect the past as you lead into the future.
Never let your vision sound like, “Ok, I am finally doing something worthwhile here and will fix everything you’ve messed up for 20 years.” You will place yourself in a bigger hole. Celebrate faithful people, recognize previous successes, and tell the stories that highlight core values you want to preserve. It will help you build the relational and strategic capital you’ll need later to introduce real change.
Leadership mistakes are inevitable – but some of them are avoidable. Learn from the mistakes of others. Doing so will limit your own errors and gain you the respect you need to lead well.
What else would you add to the list?
Carving out space for refreshment and renewal is essential for lasting leadership. Here is a great way to monitor your life and create space in your schedule.
Creating Margin in your Leadership – Transcribed
I am a proponent of a flatter leadership culture. I believe in teamwork, shared responsibility, very little hierarchy and a more collaborative approach. Not only does it work – it works better. While a number of leadership “gurus” continue to act and teach like the Big Dog Leader model is a given (most then are well over age 50), a rising groundswell of leaders are opting out of the model. They are dropping like flies from organizations that thrive on hierarchy and the Command and Control model espoused at most Leadership Conferences.
So I am thrilled to see the changes that are coming. But here’s the question…
Are we – are YOU — ready for shared leadership?
Here are a few things that shared leadership implies. And you might have a few more so join the conversation.
1) Shared leadership means shared blame. Ok, I know that you intellectually agree, but are you willing to take your share of the heat when things get hot? Or even more than your share? When I coach organizations building a flatter leadership structure, the “underlings” are thrilled to be handed an oar or two, to row with the crew. But I wonder if they are just as willing to grab a bucket when the boat takes on water in the storm? Are you willing to take the criticism, the blame for the loss or the downturn, or be confronted about the misfire?
2) Shared leadership means deeper communication more often. The more people involved in a process the more talking you need to do. That might mean more emails, more updates, more quick “check-in” meetings like Lencioni advocates in Death by Meeting. You ready for that?
3) Shared Leadership means longer decision-making. I think this is generally good, but it takes some getting used to. I would advocate that, in the long run, you get better decisions and have less “clean up” to do when the solo leader goes rogue and makes a lousy hire or a bad decision “from the gut” (which is often code for “Let’s do it my way because I’m always right and I am in control). But decisions by a team take longer than solo leadership decisions.
4) Shared Leadership means giving in and sometimes giving up. Of course, “real leaders” NEVER give up. Mandela is a great one to speak to this. In his book “Mandela’s Way” he has a chapter entitled, “Leading from the Back.” You need to read it. It comes after “Leading from the Front” so he is not opposed to being our front at times. But a willingness to step back and let other leaders have their way is an art that requires patience, trust and humility – a quality lacking in many “Big Dog” leaders. Are you ready to play second fiddle…or no fiddle at all?
5) Share Leadership means shared success. Are you ready to share the glory, the rewards, the perks, the status symbols, and the “corner” office(s)? Many are not. If you have worked in a place where many people work longer and harder than the “point leader” but they get the special trips, income, organizational resources, power, freedom, vacation time, public recognition, and “benefit of the doubt” when stuff goes wrong, you know how that feels. It is a real demoralizing situation, especially when they pretend to be “a leader among equals” which again is code for “let’s share the problems but I get the goodies.” So are you willing to share the goodies equally among the leadership team? Even bonuses, and other rewards? We’ll see.
Shared leadership is more than an ideal. It is a commitment to becoming a real community of leaders with mutual accountability, vision, goals, trust, responsibility, blame and rewards.
It takes work, but it is really worth it. The team is stronger, the cause is more compelling, the results last longer and the process of “leadership succession” is virtually seamless, because there is no “mega-leader” to replace with another one. Instead, the team grows, changes, and new leaders are added as others move on. It is driven by much more than a person.
Are you ready for that?
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Responding to People in Pain – Transcribed
Want to talk to you today about responding to people in pain. In light of the recent events, the tragedy that has taken place around the Boston Marathon, there a lot of discussions and feelings and thoughts and emotions that people are experiencing. I happen to be attending a funeral later today for a friend’s mother and again in that situation there’s emotion and some suffering and pain and sadness as well as some joy obviously around someone’s life she lived a full life. But it makes us think about important things and I just want to address this today whether you’d lead in the marketplace or in a non-profit organization or in a ministry setting or in a non-profit organization or in a ministry setting, you’ll deal with people who have pain and you yourself will have it. So how do we respond, how do we deal with it and how do we gauge one another when we’re feeling these things?
First, I want to say pain presents an opportunity for personal growth.
Anytime we feel pain we can either medicate it or we can enter into it and process it a bit. Some of that gets processed with others, some just for ourselves, but I want you just sit and reflect on what you’re feeling and thinking about perhaps this national crisis or pain you’re experiencing in your own life. Where does it come from, what causes it, how do you talk about it and engage it? And maybe reflect on who could help you process that whether that’s a professional of some type of just a close friend. But it is an opportunity to look into our own hearts, our own souls and say, “Who is this person?” Why do I respond the way that I do? What do I do with these feelings? What do I do with these reactions? How do I do my work in the marketplace today knowing you have these feelings with me? Again, it may not be about the national tragedy it can be something in your own life that you just have to bring with you because it is with you and you can’t run from it. So we try to enter into those things. Pain gets our attention C S Lewis famously said running again more from the spiritual perspective that, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, He speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pain, that it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” So it’s kind of an attention getter whether you come from that perspective in life or you don’t, maybe have a different perspective, but a psychologist, sociologist, others would agree pain is an attention getter. So what do you need to pay attention to around that emotional or physical or spiritual or other level of pain that you’re feeling?
Second, when you’re working with people who are experiencing pain and trying to engage with them remember that your presence is more important than your words.
Now wrong words can hurt, superficial words, trite words, trivial things that you say to try to medicate someone’s pain they’re not helpful. But don’t worry about trying to fix someone’s pain with your words. Your presence is what’s important. Take someone a coffee, sit with them, and attend the funeral if it’s that kind of situation. Or just simply reflect back to them say, “Sounds like this is really disturbing you this situation that’s going on right now,” and let people talk. But being present with someone is far more important than trying to know exactly how to respond or to fix or to do a number of things. So again as a leader as someone who deals with others in you’re setting recognize that sometimes it’s just even maybe a minute or two with someone, just pausing, sitting with them, letting them know you care about what’s going on in their life will go a long way.
And finally, shared pain builds teams, builds community.
When you provide an opportunity for everyone to talk about a shared pain, a national crisis, an event in the community, or someone at the workplace who has experienced a loss or a tragedy or is very ill or is maybe diagnosed with cancer, whatever, a chance to just sit and say, “Hey we all recognize this is happening we need to deal with it right now by just being present with each other and naming it and letting one another know we care.” That shared pain forms a deeper bond in any kind of place in which you work or in friendships in marriages and other kinds of relationships.
So look for that, one of those maybe three things, an opportunity for personal growth, who can you be present with and how, and then how can we share tough times together as a community so that we all grow and we face this reality of life and do it with courage as we lead well.
Image Sources: http://images.sodahead.com
Leading through Change and Chaos – Graph Detail
Referred to in Video
Leading through Change and Chaos – Transcribed
Hey talking today about the tension leaders face in managing chaos in change. Both of those things are inherent in any group or team or organization that’s moving forward to accomplish its mission.
If you’re looking to create high change in other words new initiatives, new risks, new vision you’re looking for Entrepreneurial Leaders.
If you look on the diagram that accompanies this video you’ll see I put them in the upper left-hand corner. Because they are high change-oriented people and really don’t like a lot of chaos. They create a lot of chaos but they don’t thrive in the chaos because there are too many details flying around and sort of stall them. But they love change, they love the new initiative. They love a blank sheet of paper to try the new sales territory, to create a new product, to think of the new ministry initiative if you’re in ministry work. These are people that say,” Hey, go out and try this or explore this or give us some fresh ideas of thinking in that area,” so entrepreneurial leadership is essential to push change forward.
At the opposite corner the lower right you’ll see Managerial type Leader.
Managerial leaders are needed to manage the chaos created by the entrepreneurial types. They bring structure, order, some systems in place, management kinds of initiatives needed. They sort of bring some control to the chaos that’s been created. You don’t want to stifle change but the chaos that gets created can really disrupt an organization if not dealt with over time. It can wear people down and it can create some pretty crazy environments as you know. So as you start to create new initiatives you say what structures need to be brought into that to make sure that initiative continues to move forward, so managerial leaders are great for that.
If you look at the lower left-hand corner you’re looking at someone I would call a Stabilizer type of Leader or that kind of style.
In ministry work people call this the shepherding or the pastoral style of leadership, it’s low chaos, low change. These people are best, and they are leaders, but they’re best at bringing stability to an organization or to a team or to a group. They put some systems in place, they make sure the vision is being carried out appropriately; they hold dear the values of an organization and make sure those things aren’t compromised as you create new change and as you manage the chaos. Often areas of accounting, finance, maybe HR but these are areas that bring some stability to an organization or group when they have to be led well.
The fourth one in the upper right-hand corner would be the Strategist who has to bring tension or manage the tension between the chaos and the change, make decisions about how resources are allocated to foster the change or the new initiative, but also has to know what needs to be managed and who needs to be managing it.
So the strategic leaders are directional type leader saying okay where do we invest what we have into what areas, we want to keep things moving forward but we want to make sure we make the right decisions and put the right strategies in place.
So as you manage chaos and change think, “What kind of leadership style do we need for what areas or group or organization, and what kind of leadership style do I have that contributes to forwarding the mission where I work?”