Friday, September 27, 2013

The People in Our Lives

I liked this image of people....kind of interesting shapes, looking and moving in different ways and in different directions.  This is like our life & our leadership.  Especially our personal leadership.

I know I have mentioned in the past that I recognize that you cannot be two different people ---- one at work and one in your personal life - all of your attributes carry over.  Seeing the people in the image above got me thinking about this and family and teams.

Why family and teams, you ask?

  • Well, the people in the images all have similarities and yet, they are not exactly the same.  They are going in different directions and as families go, that happens as they grow up.   So at work, our teams can be thought of as a family - we may not all resemble each other physically but we are in the same place, of similar mindset/values and sometimes even dress alike with t-shirts etc.
  • Some people are moving and some are standing still. - examine your family and see where that is happening (you will be surprised).  How about your project teams or people at work?  This same thought applies.
  • Some are foggy, out of focus.  In our families we have people we do not understand or don't know what to make of them....they seem disconnected almost.  Some may have done this to themselves...and others simply by physical distance or by the fact that a virtual team is in place and they may never have met.
Funny how families and teams have such a great deal in when you layer leadership on top of how you lead in your worklife the same as how you lead in your family life?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lost & Found

Leadership is not easy.  There are many pressures on leaders to change their course, give up the vision, change the mission, give in to the dollars, let rulers and despots create dictatorships.

The challenge is truly, to be yourself.  be the leader you know you can be...
...the thoughtful
...the methodical
...the funny
...the creative
...the focused
...the empathetic
...the lover of people
...the enabler of great deeds by others
....the passion-driven entrepreneur
...the listener
...the dreamer
...the one who lends a hand
....the visionary

Be YOU!   Besides, why would you want to be someone else?  You are awesome.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Leaders Protect

One of our roles as leaders, parents and people of the universe is to protect (love) those around us.  Especially those for whom we have been given charge.

Thinking about all the tragedies that have taken place recently - the Boston Marathon Bombings, Sandy Hook, The Navy Yard Shootings and even Jeffery Baldwin at 6 years old make many hearts heavy and creates worry and sadness that is hard to work with.

I remember where I was at the moment the planes hit the Twin Towers all those years ago.  I know that I am fortunate to not have been affected as terribly as some.  I also know I was with my youngest son practicing emergency safety for bus transit as a kindergarten child.  His first full day at school with his full class.  To see the innocence and lack of understanding in the eyes of the kids mixed with the tears and gasps of the parents and teachers as we heard the news and prayed - I can still feel it today, and yes there are tears here as I write.

As leaders, our focus needs to be the hearts of others. If we can help them by protecting their hearts, we can create great leaders around us.

Protecting their hearts means focusing them on thoughtfulness and intention; on anticipating the results of their words and actions; to live with passion and do what they love; to listen, period; to be an example for others, mentoring and coaching others along the way even if that means having honest conversations; of learning to give first and expect nothing in return and of being aware that although dollars drive the bottom-line, people with hearts make the business beat and thrive.

Take time to think of those around you today.  Who do you protect?  We know we cannot protect them - any of them -  from everything.  Being grateful and being there is a great place to start.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cookie Cutter Leadership

Cookie Cutter leadership is an cannot actually ever happen.
In a world where leadership means everything, companies (especially retailers) are working very hard to create recipes that allow for little creativity and leadership skill.  The role of a leader in this environment is to implement the plan.....and to the letter, without straying....or you will find yourself looking for a new cookbook.

Why is that?
Well - it is easier to make sure everything looks the same, the same standards, the same visual representation, the same processes.  I can tell you that some of this makes sense - especially in the process area where a great deal of time and money has surely been spent so that best practices can be implemented across the board to create efficiencies.

I do have issue with the confusion of leadership with management.  If you are following the recipe, then you are really simply managing.

Leading is visionary.  It is about taking risks.  It is about empowering others and developing leaders around you.  It is about seeing the trends and being ready for them or getting out ahead of them.  Leading is the relentless pursuit of excellence.

Managing is checking the boxes.  Making sure the to do lists are done.  Following the system and not deviating, no risks allowed.  Managing is maintaining the status quo.

Think about yourself.  Are you the cookie cutter? Or the one who breaks the mould?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Does Your Office Look Like This?

There are days when it looks like this.
There are days when it feels like this?
I like this image because at least all the stickies are colour co-ordinated and orderly.
I have a much more random look to my clutter.
These sticky notes usually represent a reminder of something you need to do or follow up.  By color there could be some level of importance or priority applied.

Just looking at this makes me want to clean my office!!!

So what can you do to stop the multiplication of stickies?

  1. Take a picture of your sticky notes and the scene they create around you.  This will help mitigate future sticky multiplication.
  2. Look at each one to make sure they really belong to you - not needing to be delegated to someone else.
  3. Talk through the prioritization with someone else to get their perspective on your opportunities and challenges.
  4. Do one at a time - you will feel a greater sense of accomplishment if you get one thing done completely and then move onto the next.
  5. Take a photo the new space minus the sticky notes.
When all the stickies are cleared up (or at least at a more manageable state), reflect on how you got there, using the before photo as an inspiration to jog your memory.  List 3 things you could do and attach both the before and after photos to the list.  Use this list often!!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Back to What?

This is the wrap up day to the week that hits everyone as the month of August ends and we move to September.  (You can't say that Summer is over because the Equinox is not until September 22nd).

What is really happening?  And as a leader, how can you help move your team....and yourself to grasp the next month and move forward.

It always feels like there is a ramp-up period...gratefulness that there are only 4 working days in this week.  Personally, I found myself torn between having lots of energy and setting off on new adventures of my own and then wishing I was my 21-year old son starting classes next week.

So there is a lot to handle (what else is new).
This time of year:

  • we regroup and refresh, tackling left over projects with renewed gusto
  • we have to focus on the changes that are happening around us ( to us & others) like first days of school (and parent-angst..been there, done that, have the t-shirt and pinky hugs), to new starts to chapters in our lives (retirement or career shifts)
  • we are planning how to end this current year and hit our benchmarks - personal, professional and the rest
  • we are deciding what needs to be budgeted and planned for next year.
With all this going on, emotions on high and change running rampant, as a leader, what can you do to support your team and clients?
Ask the following questions of each of them:
  1. What would you like to accomplish by the end of September?
  2. What would you like to accomplish by the end of the year?
  3. What obstacles do you foresee?
  4. How can I help you get there?
Once you have helped others get this into place, it will be more clear where you need to head too.

Have fun...and like Kevin in the cartoon, keep the umbrella up & the ice cream handy!