Friday, June 29, 2012

Playing at Being a Leader

When we were kids, we would play Hide and Seek.  You know, one person would close their eyes and count to 30 while the others went to hide.  Then the counter would have to go find the others where they were hiding.  Sound familiar?
Does this ever happen to you at work?
Do you have a leader who plays Hide and Seek with you?
This would be the leader who sits in their office all day, only coming out to see where everyone is at 6 pm - dooing a head count to see who stayed late.
Or if you are on the road - this would be the leader who drives from one location under your responsibility to the next looking for you, making sure they tell everyone at the location they are looking for you, but has yet to call you to find out where you actually are today.

What do you do?  In the office - work what you are scheduled or planned to work.  The leader has no bone to pick with you if your work is done - staying late does not necessarily mean you are being effective/
On the road - you have most likely already provided your schedule to the leader - stick to it.  When you are notified by one of your team members that the leader is looking for you, call the leader and remind them of your schedule for the day.  Remember to ask if they were seeking you out for something specific so that you can handle it right away and get back to your day.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Puppet Master

This is the leader who thinks they know everything! Ever met one of those?
This is the leader who micro-manages.
This is the leader who does not allow people to do their job, changing priorities along the way.
This is the leader who needs to have access to your Outlook calendar to know what you are doing every minute of the day.
This is the leader who is insecure in their role.
This is the leader who believes they influence because of their title, not how they lead.
This is the leader who is not a leader but a manager (and not a good one at that!)

What to do?  Meet with them and ask what the concerns are about your work.  Explain that you are feeling micro-managed.  This may help the leader realize what they are doing.  Micro-managing is a trait of new leaders who are learning to juggle all the new responsibility they have - help them out by pointing it out.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Apple of My Experience

I love technology. Exploring all things new. I am typing this blog post on my iPad 3 with 3G.  I had the original iPad because my husband thought it would help me with my client notes and meeting...he was right (and he knows it!).  So time comes to explore this latest version so we hit the Apple Store on one of our trips to Toronto.  Needless to say, service over the top.  My favorite thing is, without you even realizing it, the service associate is getting your order ready.  And in true Apple fashion, the resources are clean, simple and at their finger tips...inventory included!  

So we proceed and I decide to purchase the regular iPad 3, without the 3G figuring I could use my personal hotspot on my iPhone.  Transaction completed with a handshake and a smile for both of us.

I get to play with the iPad 3 before going out of the evening and I cannot get the hotspot to work.  I can The Support Line and the person on the other end of the phone is truly helpful. Even though his processes are not working ( My iPhone is the problem...just an aside, I love how all the Apple technology words have the correct spelling on this tool).  My new friend in Support qualifies my usage plan for the iPad and suggests that perhaps, in my best interest I should invest the extra dollars in the 3G. He even explained the best places to get my 3G set up.  He made a note on my file and we signed off.

The next morning, and although this was a little inconvenient, it was my fault because I should not have second guessed myself and gone non-3G, we trekked off to another Apple Store.  I also had the beginnings of a vertigo episode and was feeling quite awful just to make matters worse.  We walked in, were approached quickly by a very sweet Service Team Member and she took care of my exchange within 5 minutes, back out the door without having to ask for approval....she was truly empowered to take care of me.

Why all this? Well, if you have been a Leadership Solstice reader for a while, you would know that I read the Steve Jobs bio just before the New Year.  My experience was exactly what he would have been proud to have 2 different stores, truly the same exceptional experience.

Look at the service your team provides.  Are they empowered to take care of the customer or are there numerous obstacles in the way?  Is your team held account able for taking care of the client or do they pass the buck higher up every time?  Think this one through.  What do you have to do to fix this?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Treat Pain with Chocolate

Here is a story that I heard a few years ago.
There was an organization that had been in the area for many years. They were purchased by an out-of-country company and so needed to develop new habits, assimilate to a new corporate culture and the people inside the organization actually had the opportunity to become better and different leaders than they had been in the past.

One guiding principle for the new organization was that each open job needed to be posted and interviews conducted with all qualified applicants. At the end of the interview process, all candidates would be personally told if they had been selected and provided with goals to work on in order to be successful with the next job posting.

Sounded pretty simple....until in this specific location, the leader decided that they would pre-select candidates to apply for the position based on relationship to the leader, the family of the leader, and even common interests (if they both liked baseball) - qualifications were never considered.  These candidates would be told to apply for the position and others would apply as well - qualified individuals who had been in position or had similar experience in other companies.  Needless to say, the leader would then hold 5 minute interviews or even no interviews at all and announce the new position-holder, without providing any follow up to the other candidates.

This activity and lack of fairness caused unrest in the organization.  The leader decided that to appease the disgruntled candidates, he would buy them each a box of chocolates.  Not only did this not appease anyone, it made the leader look like the unfair fool he was and pushed the employees to form groups that eventually led to a great deal of labor unrest.  

If the leader would have taken the extra 60 minutes to complete the interviews and follow up, and if he had actually been fair with the selection process, this could have saved the organization years of strife.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Culture Shifts in Airport Attitudes

Do you travel? I travel.  Been to a few different airports over the last month and have noticed an extreme change in the attitude of airport employees.  This is a huge positive change...greetings in the security line, compliments on my shoes, chuckles with the little kid in front of me, joking with me because my boarding pass was on my iPad and more.  Not in just one airport, but 3 and once extremely early, once in the middle of the Friday evening commuter rush!  I have to say I was and still am impressed.

Is this because it was sunny out?  Did everyone take happy pills?  Not true I am felt and looked genuine. These people were actually enjoying their work.  Even the security officer who had me go back through the metal detector 3 times, each removing a different piece of jewellery....she made a game of it...let's see which will not buzz!  I was therefore not embarrassed, people behind me, while having to wait for me as the ping pong ball, seemed to relax because they probably felt they would not be hassled either and became patient.  

It's a culture shift.  Knowing the aggravation because of increased security measures and understanding that happy employees make happy customers, all of a sudden this shift is becoming a reality.

You can see this especially if you read through The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni and his discussion of the healthy organization.  You will have happy people when your organization is healthy.  More evidence exists if you look at, Indigo, any Apple Store on the planet (more on this experience later) and I am sure that you have many other local examples.

Take some time over the next week to recognize the culture shifts in the places you frequent.  Is there a shift that needs to take place in your organization?What can it look like,why do you require his shift to happen?  

Looking forward to seeing your examples....I love to try out new places!

Friday, June 8, 2012

In The Center

Being the center of attention,  you would think, would be a good thing.
Not so much when the leader centers you out in the middle of a meeting for not following a specific instruction on providing reports.  More details are not sought - as to why the report is not provided, or if it was and it was late, or if there were system issues (goodness knows they happen).  Simply berrating the employee for not providing the report and then making them the 'scapegoat' for all other errors or issues in the meeting is not a good way to do business.

What to do?  Pull the leader aside after the meeting and explain the situation.  Not providing excuses, but simply stating the fact.  Also express that you did not appreciate being centered out in the middle of your colleagues.  The discussion could have been taken off-line with a better outcome and understanding.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Leadership at the Spa

Today I tried to book a spa appointment for tomorrow when I am landing in another city. I called 4 different spas explaining the situation ....I would be landing at 11 am and would need an appointment after 12 noon.  Here are the responses I received:
How about 9 am tomorrow?
We're all booked tomorrow, how about tonight at 7?
We are all booked.  I can fit you in on Saturday.
And finally....
I can do half an hour at 10 am and the you can come back at 5 pm for the rest of the services.

What does all this have to do with leadership?  I see this as the inability to listen, to be present and determine the exact needs of the customer before offering inappropriate solutions to the problems being presented.  Why is this a leadership concern" the way I see it, those responding most likely re not listened to or understand what 'being present ' means because there is no clear example for them to follow.  In the past I have stated that attitude reflects do actions.  The actions that are modeled for us are the actions we emulate.

Think about that next time you're in a situation where listening and truly hearing the information is required.

Graduation Lessons

Commencement speeches abound. Do you remember what was said when you graduated from high school, college or university? Things about roads, paths, journeys, crossing, becoming oneself, being true to oneself, staying open, becoming the future we design.

What were the words?

I have been paying attention in the media to the coverage of famous people..presidents, republican candidates,actors, CEOs, all giving commencement addresses.  Do you think because it was a famous person you will remember their words?

Here are the words I remember most...and I believe it was because I was ready to hear them...and they came from our valedictorian:
' go out and be up yourself, remember who you are and let you guiding light be from your heart'
This is truly the goal and the base leadership. Your heart guides you to be who you are.  

What do you remember?  Do you still use it today?