Ladies and gentlemen, you have heard them all before. That one phrase that is so insanely stupid at the moment that you ask yourself, “How did this person tie their shoes this morning?” The most terrible part is that you have likely said one or more of these your self. I know I have. And, I kick myself for it every single time!
The good thing is these aren’t usually fatal unless they become habit. Then they go from phrases of leadership failure to phrases of failed leadership. The difference? Failure is temporary and you can recover. Failed is past tense, you aren’t failing you have already done it! Game over, please try again.
So, what are these phrases of failure? Continue reading →
If you believe the old saying that you are the average of your five closest friends then you should also know that you, and them, are only as good as their tools. Everybody uses them and some use more than others but they are all there for a reason.
Today I want to share with you a few of my favorite leadership resources. These leaders all have unique perspectives and experiences that make them valuable assets for your toolbox. Here are their names and why I value them.
Simon Sinek’s works include “Start With Why” and “Leaders Eat Least”. He is also a renowned TED Talker and public speaker with a background in cultural anthropology. That background gives him a perspective relatively unique among most leadership experts these days.
His works come from a perspective that what we look for in leaders is a natural function of how we evolved. And, if you have read these books, he is likely right. I believe that is why the 25 fundamentals I write about work so well, they are naturally evolved markers. So, put these books in your toolbox.
Larry Winget goes by the nickname of Pitbull of Personal Development. And, if you have ever read anything of his you will understand why. He has a no-nonsense, no fluff and in your face style of relaying really amazing content.
His books include titles such as “Its Called Work for a Reason” and “Shut up, Stop Whining and Get a Life”. The titles are self-evident to their contents. He is a regular contributor to several media outlets and considered one of the world’s top leadership speakers.
If you are looking for a touchy feely experience, Larry is not your guy. If you want to hear it straight with no spin then you won’t be able to get enough of Mr. Winget. He is the hammer in your toolbox!
Richard Rierson is the mind behind the “Dose of Leadership” podcast. If you have not heard of it then you are missing out. Richard has accumulated some of the best interviews across all the podcasts and I absolutely love his signature question.
“If you were going to have a dinner party and could invite any five people, living or dead, who would you invite?” This is a brilliant question because you learn a lot about people by who they select in answering this question.
Dov Baron is an expert on building great teams and working with millennials. He has a great back story with a very interesting past set of experiences. Dov’s brand is centered around his “Full Monty Leadership” platform.
I suggest adding Dov’s new book, Fiercely Loyal to your toolbox. While you are at it be sure to add his podcast and catch up on his blog.
Jim Bouchard is known as the C Suite Sensei for a reason. He has a rough past that he has overcome in order to become a leadership expert. His teachings are deeply rooted in the martial arts teachings that helped him turn his life around.
Jim’s latest book, “The Sensei Leader“, is another great addition to your toolbox. It chronicles a lot of his journey and uses that as a backdrop for his leadership teachings. Full disclosure, I was lucky enough to do an advanced review that is in the front of this book so, yes, I am a little biased on this one.
If you add these resources to your toolbox, along with the leadership fundamentals I talk about here, you will have everything at your disposal to be a more successful leader. I hope you enjoy reading their works as much as I do. If you have more suggestions feel free to include them in the comments section below.
Clutter is something we all deal with in our lives. It doesn’t matter if it is at home or in the office, clutter will find a way to accumulate if left unchecked. In today’s post I hope to help you both identify and correct some of the clutter in your life. Some of it will be pretty obvious while other aspects might actually shock you. No matter the case, there are four key areas you need to focus on and eliminate as much clutter as possible in.
These four clutter areas are physical items/junk, information, scheduling and people. I’ve put them in order from easiest to most difficult to deal with so you can just work down the list. By the time you reach the end you should have a life with much less clutter in it.
Clutter Area 1 – Physical Items
Whether it is our desk at work or our garage at home we all have physical items clogging up our productivity. The other thing that both of these areas have in common is limited space. It is important for you to declutter these areas as much as possible in order to use them most effectively and efficiently.
A good way to start is with a clean slate. Take the space and clear it as much as possible. You can place the items off to the side, in a box, on the floor or in the driveway. All that matters at this point is giving yourself a blank canvas to work with.
Once you have done this you may begin filling the space back up but this item you will do it with a process. First, identify spaces in the blank area for particular items to live. Think of how you use the items, how often you use them and the level of convenience of access they need. When you have this knowledge map out the area and use any tools needed to make sure only designated items live there. These tools could be storage bins, book ends, file holders or anything else to help you stay organized.
If, as you are filling up these spaces, something doesn’t have a legitimate home then get rid of it. If it serves no purpose then it has no purpose. Putting these items back won’t solve anything it will just give you the same clutter in a more organized layout and that isn’t our goal. Our goal is to cut the clutter. So, be sure to donate, recycle or otherwise get rid of these excess items.
Clutter Area 2 – Digital Items
An area that is as big of a concern as physical items are digital items. Typically this means emails but you can toss in social media as well. Cutting the digital clutter is very similar to handling the physical clutter.
Your ultimate goal is to keep your inbox at or near zero. No, that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to read every email every day but, unless you have a large email load, you should give it a good try. But, there is a much better and more realistic strategy to use.
Make the many tools available in most email clients work for you. Create folders for your more important topics. Like storage bins for physical items, email folders designate a certain area for particular email subjects to live. This will allow you to more easily scan a folders list and find relevant emails to your current needs.
Another tool that works in tandem with folders is filters. Email filters, when used properly, can automate the process of moving emails from the inbox to designated folders. You do need to take some time to make sure you are setting up your email filters properly or you run the risk of emails getting accidentally placed in an incorrect folder. Once you have folders and filters mastered it is a lot easier getting your inbox total down to zero.
For a much more in-depth look at reducing email clutter check out this Forbes article.
Clutter Area 3 – Schedule
In a world where so many people, projects and events are lobbying for our time it is easy to see how our schedules can become extremely cluttered. The truth, however, is that this is always our own faults. It is rarely the case we absolutely have to commit to something but we always feel like we need to.
A valuable skill is learning when to say yes or no and how to say no tactfully. An honest “No” is always better than a half-hearted “Yes”. Once you say yes you have committed yourself and how you follow through becomes a measure of your dependability trait. On the other hand, saying no is a reflection of your judgment and integrity traits.
There is one simple truth in this area and that is this, your time is your most valuable asset. You can always make more money, find new friends and cultivate new opportunities but nobody can create more time. How you curate the time you are given should be your number one focus in life and that is going to mean making a lot of tough decisions. So, a good measure of deciding when to say yes or no should be this question:
Does this even further my personal or professional life goals or does it serve as a distraction from them?
If it furthers your goals then say yes. If it distracts then you should likely say no.
Clutter Area 4 – People
And now, the absolute toughest area of our lives to manage clutter, people. It is really hard to view people as a form of clutter but the sad truth is that, sometimes, they are. Now, you can’t simply clear them off the table like physical or digital items. That would be a pretty harsh way to handle it but you do have to handle it nonetheless.
As leaders our goal should be to help as many people as we can achieve their goals but we must also realize there is a point where any effort becomes futile. Some people are perfectly happy being exactly who they are and that is something we must learn to accept. We must also accept that, sometimes, that means parting ways.
Old friends take different directions. Old acquaintances become new friends. Strangers become best friends. Once friendly coworkers become bitter rivals. All of these are events that happen every day and they each take their toll on us and our lives. The only way to effectively manage their impact is to be okay with identifying the people who are valuable and the people who are clutter and intentionally deciding to move on.
Each of these areas present their own, unique, obstacles. And, they each take time to master but they are each worth that time investment. Removing clutter and streamlining your life is something you owe to yourself and those who rely on you. It isn’t something you should so as much as it is something you need to do.
So, hopefully these suggestions help you down that path. If you have any comments or questions I will be looking forward to the discussion.
So, you hired an employee with an impressive resume a few months back. Everything in the interview sounded great and the references checked out. But, here you are today with a problem employee on your hand and you aren’t sure exactly how to deal with them.
Well, fear not, for I have six secrets to help you not get into this situation in the first place and deal with it if you already are. Here they are…
The easiest way to deal with problem employees is to avoid having them to begin with. Many times this can be accomplished with a little preemptive effort on your part. Your organization should have an extensive on-boarding process that hammers home the organizational culture and employee expectations.
This establishes a baseline set of expectations for the employee and gives them an opportunity to decide if your organization really is the right fit. It also gives you a chance to evaluate them through the process. Are they invested in learning about those expectation? If yes, then that is a good sign. If no, you may have trouble ahead and need to deal with it right now before too much time and effort have been spent.
And extensive on-boarding program is useless if the material covered is not actually enforced and reinforced. You have to live up to those standards and ensure everyone else is as well. You don’t run the organization as much as the culture does. Therefore, if you allow a different culture to take root and spread you will have a different organization in no time. Introducing and allowing problem employees to develop is a sure-fire way to change the culture.
Confrontation is always a scary proposition but it is essential. Now, before I go on, confrontation does not mean yelling and screaming. It simply means having the necessary conversations to influence desired behaviors. You can do this with a great deal of tact and bearing and accomplish more than a tirade ever will.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way we can focus on the core of this secret. Confronting employees as soon as their behavior conflicts with the organizational culture prevents that behavior from becoming habit. One or two-time occurrences are much easier to correct than habits ever will be.
Also, it shows the rest of your team that you really do believe in the culture and are there to protect it. That keeps them invested as well. As soon as you start letting things slip you send the message the culture isn’t that important after all and you begin to lose everybody’s buy in. You quickly go from one problem to many problems.
As you are having these conversations learn about the employee. Maybe there is a reason for their behavior and, maybe, you can help. You hired this person in the first place to you have a responsibility to be supportive and help them through what you can.
The tricks here are to know your limitations and establish an understanding that you expect positive change to be the outcome of your efforts.
By this time you should have turned a problem employee into a valuable team member. But, what if none of this has worked? Well, this is where your responsibility as a leader to the team rather than the individual kicks in. You must be prepared to let this person go. As harsh as it may sound problem employees are more valuable to you gone then they ever would be sticking around.
The production and talent don’t matter if they are a disruptive and harmful presence to the rest of the team. Be prepared to help them move on to other opportunities and keep your culture and team in tact. This is part of being a safety valve for your team.
These situations provide great learning opportunities to change and grow your leadership. Take every advantage of them. They are more valuable than any book or seminar ever will be. So, be changed by the process and learn the things you can do differently to either avoid the scenario in the future or better encourage the transition from problem employee to team member.
Do you remember a time when a problem employee came on board? How did you deal with them? What was the end result? Share your thoughts below.
How many of you have heard of the 60-20-20 rule? I know I had not until late 2001 when a Federal Aviation Administration’s Airfield Manager stepped into the office where I was working and asked, “Earl, have you ever heard of the 60-20-20 rule?” It sounded interesting so I asked him what it was. Here is what he said.
“Earl, one day you will find yourself leading and managing people. When you do you will have to make decisions. Sometimes they will be easier than others but keep this rule in mind and they will all be easier.
When you make a decision you put people in three categories. Sixty percent will be okay with it. Twenty percent will be pissed off and the other twenty percent won’t really care. The only thing changes from decision to decision is what category a particular person is in.”
Now, obviously those percentages fluctuate a bit but the spirit of the rule remains intact. Leaders make decisions and in doing so we please some people, anger others and some folks just aren’t fazed. But I do believe we should strive to stay in, or beat, those percentage ranges and here is why.
The sixty percent
If we are pleasing more than half of our team then we are, at the very least, on the right path. Sure, sixty percent is a bit low but it is better than upsetting more than half your team. I try to hit the eighty percent range as a minimum myself.
Why not higher? Well, I understand there will always be three categories. Obviously the higher the better but if I can only upset ten percent and have ten percent not really care then I am definitely making decisions better for the collective.
The twenty percent that are mad
Now, the ten to twenty percent I upset are just the cost of doing business. My goal isn’t to avoid upsetting them as much as it is to limit how much they get upset. You know the old saying, “You have to break a few eggs to make an omelette,”? These are the eggs. If making a small percentage uncomfortable leads to better long-term goals for every one then you have to be okay with that.
The twenty percent that don’t care
This category actually weighs on my mind the most. Why? Well, when somebody doesn’t care about a decision that impacts the organization I have to wonder a little about their commitment and motives. Now, you have to apply some common sense here. If we are repainting the office and somebody doesn’t care then that is one thing. If we are talking about a major project for the organization and someone doesn’t care then we have issues. If you don’t care then you aren’t putting forth max effort which means the team is suffering, which means performance suffers, which means the results suffer.
The spirit of the 60/20/20 rule is a sound one but I would aim for more 80/10/10 or 90/5/5. The numbers are something you can work out on your own for your personal and organizational comfort levels. Just remember the point of the rule is that you must make decisions and, in doing so, will place people into three categories. Be comfortable making those decisions and realize that people will float from category to category as you make other decisions. It is a delicate balancing act that every leader must perform.
This next principle builds on the principle of be technically and tactically proficient and traits such as judgment and decisiveness. It also incorporates many aspects of the law of proportional decision making. In fact, that law sums this principle up very well and utilizing it will make this principle easy to live by.
Make sound and timely decisions
It is important that you make sound and timely decisions for many reasons but here are a three main ones:
- It instills confidence in your team
- It allows you and your team to react to change better
- It means you make smarter decisions
It instills confidence in your team
Your team looks up to you. Period. You set the example in everything you do and that includes making decisions. The way you make decisions communicates a lot about your understanding of the technical and tactical side of the organization as well as strengthens your judgment and decisiveness traits. These all combine to strengthen your position as a leader and make the team more confident in the future.
It allows you and your team to react to change better
How you make decisions impacts your agility and ability to react to change. And, change is everywhere. I heard an unattributed quote the other day that goes, “Change is changing faster than change has ever changed before.” That is an absolutely true statement and it is just gaining momentum every day.
So, when you make sound and timely decisions you are much more equipped with that pace of change. You can slow the process down, if needed, or you can speed it up. Both of these allow you to assess the situation and make the best, most sound, decision.
It means you make smarter decisions
Timely doesn’t mean speedy. It means the decision is made in the appropriate amount of time. Sometimes that will be immediate and sometimes that will mean a couple weeks worth of meetings. This principle means you know the difference and use it to react appropriately.
When we speed up what should be a lengthy process you make mistakes. When you stretch out what should be short processes you show indecision and lack of confidence as well as run the risk of losing any advantages you may have.
All of these reasons are why make sound and timely decisions made the cut for the eleven leadership principles. Keep this one close by because the rate of change is only getting faster and making decisions is a critical skill.