Wednesday, October 29, 2014

One of These is Not Like the Other

Role fit is one of the keys to finding your place on your team.
Whether this team is at work, at home or even in your community.

Here is an example at home:
A friend has recently separated from their spouse.  The eldest child in the home took over the role of the other parent by ensuring that the other children in the house were up on time for school, had their homework completed and went to bed on time. (Not an optimal situation, I assure you I understand that! - though it did take place).

After the family was reunited, the eldest child still played the role of parent.  While it was no longer required, it was difficult to break them of this habit - and to this day, comments and actions sometimes come up that point to that time in their life.  Delicately, the parent needs to remind them of their new role - to remove the pressure from the child as well as support them in being who they are in the new dynamic.

Think of the team you have at work - or the team you are on.  There are roles that each person plays - leader, processor, smart-guy, visionary and more.  Some people play more than one role.  Some people assume roles that don't fit them.  Example:  A very detail-oriented person has a a hard time being the visionary because they get stuck 'in the weeds'.  While we all have tendencies in many areas, by focusing on our strengths, we can offer the most to our team as well as help bring out the best in them.

Finding role fit is important.  If one does not fit, you need to determine what the gap is and fix it.
Fixing it may mean adding to the team or redefining the roles.
At the end, if the 'fix' does not work, it could be more than just the role.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

When the Click Happens

A few months ago, I was introduced to Eleni Kelakos by a friend - Diane Reko.  Diane had experienced Eleni's presentation at an event with the Women President's Organization and thought that I could benefit from sharing this connection for work I am doing for a social enterprise in development (more on that later).  Well, we spoke by phone and felt a pretty solid connection - we had similar thoughts on leadership, owning our talents and skills, living big and more.  The connection was strong enough that we made an appointment to meet in person.

This past week, my husband and I drove 45 minutes away to meet the wonderful Eleni - and as we spent time learning each other's stories, you could feel the click in the air.  We started to lay a foundation for a new relationship.

Now I offer you 2 things:

  1. Get to know Eleni and what she has to offer
  2. The Click:  take a moment to reach out and connect 2 people that you know & that may not know each other so that you can feel the click too.

Monday, October 27, 2014

White Knuckle Alignment

How do you know if you are feeling connected to the momentum of your business?  The whirlwind that is driving innovation, collaboration and even cash-flow or cash-drain?

Does it feel like the photo?  Coming at you at a million miles an hour and you have to white-knuckle the chair so that you can stay in role or in position and keep the rudder moving the ship in the right direction?

Connection comes from aligned purpose - you aligned to your business.  Your team aligned to your business.  Both you, your team and your business aligned to your clients.

Creating this alignment can be a challenge.  It is no longer a simple matter of hiring people -  FIT is required.  Solid leaders take time to examine the purpose of their business as well as ensure that the people in the business have the same purpose.  Focusing our team members becomes easier and more difficult at the same time.
Easier: because focus is the same
More Difficult:  because now there are challenges coming from a lot of directions, each person passionate for results
Looking at clients through this lens adds a small complication - no longer are you or your business a fit for everyone, you are becoming selective.  How do you make the move away from fishing in the biggest pool possible, to a narrow stream?  Again, go back to what you do best and why - what is the purpose...if you are specific enough with your mission you are qualifying clients as you go.  In order for your work to be well-received, well-implemented and sustainable it needs to be in the hands of the right client.  They will become your advocate and connect you to more like-purpose clients.

While the white-knuckle ride is exciting & scary at the same time, creating this alignment is the same.  I can assure you though, that it is worth it - you will be doing your best work once aligned.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Clutter in Your Head

This time of year causes lots of things to pile up - what needs to be completed, what has yet to be done, what next year will look like and then....add in family, community and personal agendas and obligations and the CLUTTER mounts!

The inside of your head can look like this - stuff everywhere.  And what do you do to clear it up?

Working with clients, here is something that works pretty well: 

  • take a pause along with a deep breath
  • dump out everything that is in your brain  (aka:  brain dump) on sheets of paper - don't be concerned about the order or if it makes any sense at all, just get it out.
  • next take the brain dump and categorize with colours, or marks or by circling things that match the headings
    • to do now - not negotiable
    • opportunities to look at later
    • for planning next year
    • to do now - nice to do
    • to delegate - I don't need to do this
  • once this is completed, you can wrap your head (now de-cluttered) around the pieces to tackle
Let me know if it works.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Clear the Air (Waves)

Have you had the experience where there is so much noise in the air that messages get distorted, missed or forgotten?

Have you stopped sharing pertinent information because you think you cannot get you message across because of all the noise in the airwaves of your business or life?

Leaders find ways to clear the air and the airwaves.  Here are a few things you could try to do the same:

  1. create an environment for communication - comfortable space where you can listen, pen & paper or tech tools for note taking
  2. be physically focused on the individual(s) communicating - facing them, listening & taking notes
  3. pay attention to body language - what are the eyes, facial expressions, hands and shoulders saying - slumped, looking away, fidgeting or open, animated and engaging?
  4. leave some silence - let them fill in the time with their words and other thoughts they may have omitted
  5. ask clear questions - the ones that dig into purpose and methodology getting to these ideas, not only the ones that ask about logistics, implementations and next steps.
Try it this week.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tools of the Trade

Sitting on my desk are the tools of my trade.
Yes, they do look different than other tools - yet, that is what makes my process work.

Consider the tools your team members gravitate too - what is it that makes them work best?
How do they interact, keep track, take notes, organize?
Do you support them with the tools they need or the tools you need?

Observation can help you understand just a little bit more about the people who work around you.
Cluttered desk (like mine!); clean stacked piles, nothing on the walls - all a signal of how someone operates and what makes them comfortable.

Today is observation day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

This is How It Works

I love Gaping Void - and the team here has figured out how to connect with their audience in more than one way - read the note that was in my email yesterday.

The team here has taken time to listen and respond with a solution that will satisfy another segment of their audience.

Feeling that email overload? 
​We've been told that ​folks​ love the 20+ cartoons we send out every month, but they don't always have time to ​enjoy​ them all. 
You can now sign up for one simple email, the Weekly Digest, sent out every Saturday -  all the daily cartoons, but without the inbox clutter. 
Sign me up!
I actually sent back a reply stating I would not sign up for the Saturday list because I love the break the emails give me - they make me stop, think & apply (and usually post too!)

So, to deconstruct how this new connection point came to be, it could have looked like this:
  • the daily email program is working .....  could there be more or better out there?
  • someone analyzed the drop off rates from lists or correlated unopened emails to a specific group
  • they may have done some research into why the emails are unopened or people have unsubscribed
  • someone in the org. said figure out what's going on....or someone on the team may have come up with this new solution
  • lastly, they were told to run with it
The objective of this new form of connection will get more subscribers, not less.  More shares, not less.  More purchases, not less.  More buzz, not less (look at me?!)

Do we take time as leaders of our organizations to listen to our audience and allow our teams to develop the solutions?  Do we jump onto the next thing before making sure this one is good?  Have we tested it before moving on?

Once we move on, have we lost everything else that grew us to this point?  If so, then we are a different organization.  Keep the focus, figure out how to connect better.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Get to Know Your Leader

The world is made up of different types of people.  That is what makes it interesting.
We all have different likes, dislikes, attitudes, looks.....and at the end of the day,  we are products of our environments.

Leaders take heed to the differences and at the same time work to connect the diversity so that the best results are the outcome.  The best results for the client, the team and the organization  - not just one-sided results.

Knowing that people are different - that means that each leader is different to.  Do you relate well to the leader on your team?  Have you spent time understanding who they are, why they do what they do, how they got into this role?

We expect the leaders to make this effort - the effort to get to know the team.  Why can't we?  It works in the opposite direction too, doesn't it?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Be You.

Today is my youngest son's birthday - this is a fitting poster.
He is very different from his brother.
He is not afraid to be himself.
He is kind, funny, friendly and completely his own person, loves his family and only wanted his Nonne & Nonno at his birthday dinner.

He has a unique sense of style.  He is cheeky & cool ...and is even trying new things.

This all made me wonder, as I reflected on the life that so far has been his....
Do we take time to recognize the 'you-ness' in others, or are we always waiting for them to conform to us?
Do we celebrate the diversity on our teams, or do we run from it?
Do we challenge ourselves to seek beyond the exterior and view the interior - the heart and the soul?
Do we stop and listen to our team members, and know what they value beyond the day to day?

It's Monday - let's try.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Pivot

In Lean Start-Up-speak, the Pivot  is the change you make along the way to discovering if your business idea will fly from inception as you had thought.

The pivot is a stopping point where you assess and adjust direction.

Take a moment and consider the pivots you have made.
Then ask yourself why you have made them.

Think about the pivots your team has made.
Think about the pivots they should have made earlier & what was stopping them?
Was it you?

As the leader, one of our goals should be to encourage pivots so that the work doesn't stagnate, instead it progresses with solid learning, steady foundation and clear innovation.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dare to BE, Differently

Are you courageous enough to abandon  a practice that made you successful in the past?
Are you ready to dare to BE?
Are you ready to BE differently than before?

Taking time out to assess what worked in the past, and evaluate if it will help or hinder us for the present and future is key to taking risks.
Dare to BE - differently.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

If Only It Was This Easy

If only it was this easy to give feedback.
Push the button and the receiver know if you are happy, ok or not content.

How you give feedback is critical to so many factors in developing engaged teams of leaders that will move your organization forward.  Heck, for that matter, how we give feedback to our spouses, partners, kids and beyond is just as important.

Think of this when delivering feedback:

  • what is the purpose of the feedback?
    • are you trying to help, grow or change?
  • do you have specific examples that can show the changes the feedback is offering?
    • being clear in articulating feedback with examples of actions as well as alternatives can help provide a better picture of next steps or changes in action
  • are you ready to have a dialog & not just 'dump and run'?
    • providing feedback should lead to an exchange of thoughts and ideas ~ if there is no exchange, then something is missing - start over.
Feedback is the 'breakfast of champions' according to Ken Blanchard - and he is right.  It is not as easy as pushing a button - it can be hard to take, and even harder to act on.  If we do give feedback like the buttons in the image above, clarity, exchange and examples are clearly missing.

Take your time with feedback - don't just push the button.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What is X?

Every day, leaders get going to solve for X.
This is the math that we all hated when initially learning algebra.  What does X mean?  Solve for X.

As a leader, X is truly a variable - it can be different everyday.
The questions we need to learn to ask are numerous.  The most important question we should ask so that we can solve for X is:
what is the problem we are trying to solve?
This is usually not an easy question to answer as it can be very complex.  We need to find enough focus to simplify the question by narrowing down the selection of responses.  This way, solving for X becomes clear.  Clarity is the key to great delegation, excellent productivity, superior results and an engaged and collaborative team.

If everyone know what X is (the problem), then solving it becomes clearer too.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Discipline? What's That?

My challenge to myself was to get 100 blogs posted in a row......and I almost missed today!
Simple - I did not follow my usual morning routine - blogging as soon as I can after I get the kids off to school.  Today went another way.

Discipline is hard.  It's more difficult than building a habit - discipline feels like it is a negative activity - that I am forcing myself to do something....just like the poster above states.
I don't like to be forced to do things I don't want to do.....I prefer to build solid habits.

So let's take a moment and pause.
Discipline is now an old word for Habit.

My new habit around blogging in the morning makes me feel good - like I have accomplished something creative for the day.  Now, no matter what the day holds, I know that I got to share a bit of my own thoughts with the world of cyberspace.

Wow - relief.  And thanks!

Monday, October 13, 2014

How Brave Are You?

Relationships of any sort require the ability to put things aside, face rejection and even face your worst fears.

This means going into battle, holding hands, wiping tears and laughing so hard your sides hurt.
Are you ready for this?
Does your team know you are?

Real relationships are forged over time, you cannot flip a switch.  Even blood-bonds don't create relationships - it takes work.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Daily Practice

This is Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada.

Last night we hosted 12 for Thanksgiving Dinner 
- a wonderful celebration with food, drink & chatter.

My mom instituted a practice many years ago.
After saying Grace, we go around the table and each person says one thing they are grateful for this year.  From the youngest to the oldest, each person has one.

I am grateful for the people who have come into my life - for no matter how long they stay, they leave  lessons and love in their wake.  

A daily practice of gratitude - no matter how you do it - makes life enough.

Many blessings to all.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

How Effective Are Your Meetings?

Meetings make up most of our days.  So - if that is truly the case, how effective are the meetings?
In order to consider a meeting effective, think through these points:

  • is there an agenda & are you prepared to attend?
  • do you know who else will be in the room & are you prepared for their points of view on the meeting topic?
  • do you have outcomes to report on from previous meetings?
  • what is the objective of this particular meeting?
  • what level of energy is require in this meeting?
  • are you the host, an observer or key participant?
If you do not have the answers to the questions above, perhaps a full scale meeting is no the way to go.  

To be effective, to have dialog that reaches conclusions and specific outcomes, sometimes that takes one on one discussion over coffee, not the heavy-duty, call out the troop, boardroom stand off.

Before you head into your next meeting - think the points through and see if you are ready to make this meeting an effective one.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Leadership Lessons from Ferris Bueller

Can you hear it in the background?
The teacher is taking attendance and the class is already looking extremely bored, while our hero is faking sick and planning the ultimate escape day, taking his best friend and his girl along on the ride.

And the quote is simple & true...if we don't stop in this fast life, lots will pass us by & we will miss it.

As leaders, we need to help our teams focus on stopping & looking around:

  • when things are going well, there are successes to celebrate
  • when trying something new, there are learnings to observe, dots to connect to other projects
  • when a project is falling off the rails, stopping to look around could help us find a new route or trigger
While all of this stopping can take time, it can also save us valuable people, ideas and process development that could have been missed along the way.

What are you prepare to miss?

I hope the response is 'as little as possible'!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

When Was Your Last Time Out?

How often do you take a time out?
Time to think, or digest or simply breathe?
Taking this time out is critical to our focus and especially critical to our leadership.

Leaders need to take time out for activities that recharge them - help them find peace.
This is not necessarily a long period of time - enough to create space in the day can be suitable for moving onto new things with a clear head.  My newest friend Bill Carr said in a presentation a few weeks ago - it's called 'epoche' - a Greek practice (?) - pause, step back, take a deep breath in and out, and checking in on yourself - look at what is truly happening around you (completely paraphrased, sorry Bill - and it works!)  When doing this since our session, I have found new appreciation for people, new reasons to be grateful, new insight into myself and even a shift in my energy.

(I have been asking clients this question all week - what are you doing to find space for yourself and with your significant other, if applicable?  This is crucial to recharging and refocusing!)

If teams see leaders taking these actions, they will follow....the team needs to recharge as well.

With the long weekend ahead of us in Canada - what will you do to recharge?  

How will you encourage your team members to find time to have a time out - time for themselves to reflect, relax and recharge?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What Will You Paint Today?

I am reading Oprah's 'What I Know for Sure' every morning with my coffee.
I was struck this morning by a small paragraph describing our lives as a canvas and that we hold the paintbrush - we are in charge.  It was empowering & at the same time a little scary - not that I didn't know that before, but simply, that I need to own it more.  The paint of course, is the experience of our lives, our daily living, the colours we can create.  It's true, we can create through our choices, our presence, our chances & challenges.

How about you?  What will you paint on your canvas today?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Getting it Done

How do you get things done?
On your own or with someone else?
On your own or through someone else?
Outsource, delegate, assign?  All words that show how we reach out to get things done.

The idea of giving away what you are not good makes us look at ourselves - and sometimes, frankly, lots of the time, we hate that!

We have to decide what we are not good at, or what we can give away or what we know others can do better than us.  As much as that hurts, we need to do it.  We need to face the fact that we are not great at everything, that we need to tap into the strengths of others.

This is getting it done - sharing the outcome & results, means sharing the work.  Nothing wrong with that - this is how teams form, storm, norm & perform.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Set It & Forget It

Creating goals for the next 12 weeks is the only way you will get to the end of the year.
Focusing on achieving something gives us direction - wandering aimlessly or feeling that we lack direction drives procrastination.

Set your goals - what will you get done/accomplish by December 31st 2014?
Set your milestones - what will you evaluate along the way?
Set your Measurement - how will you know you got there?

Click, Boom, Amazing - set it & forget it!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Leaders Appreciate the Lines

Leaders appreciate the lines that have come from time.
Leaders work hard to develop their own lines by appreciating the experiences of others.
Leaders create opportunity for new generations to ear their own lines.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Leader's C-List

There are three 3's that leaders use daily.  And I have one more to add.

  1. Choices - leaders look at options daily
  2. Chances - leaders take risks
  3. Changes - leaders know changes need to happen for growth, innovation and development.  Change is not change for change sake, but because it is truly needed.
All of this takes leadership courage - 
Courage includes the ability to fail on the way to success.
Courage includes developing the confidence to make choices, take chances to make change happen.

Look at your C-List - does it include these words?
Can you add any?

Friday, October 3, 2014

How to Get Help

I love this image - it's hits the right chord - how do you get help?
Ask for it!
Asking for help is not as sign of weakness, it is a sign that you know what you know & what you don't.

Asking for help is a sign of self-awareness.
Asking for help is courageous.
Asking for help is a sign of confidence - that you want to learn more from others around you.
Asking for help means you don't want to let the team down - you want to make sure you can hit the mark/deadline/cost line etc.

Don't wait until you are drowning in papers like this guy.
Don't wait until you are down to the last minute.
Don't wait until you are completely stuck.

Help can be as simple as asking for some advice, bouncing ideas around, considering options with someone else, clarifying expectations & even delegating what is not your strength.

It's okay.  Go ahead.  Ask for help.

Even leaders ask for help when they need it & even when they don't.  By surrounding themselves with great team members...members who fill in their weaker spots.....who are experts in areas in which they are not....they are in effect, asking for help.

It's okay.  Go ahead.  Ask for help.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

7 Things Needed for a Relationship to Start

Relationships start when the following exists:

  1. at least 2 people
  2. opportunity to connect
  3. curiosity
  4. open-mindedness
  5. willingness to listen & learn
  6. time to create an exchange
  7. follow up on deliberate next steps
Relationships are more than just a meeting - if you are building a relationship, you are removing the transactional focus from a conversation and really focusing on understanding and learning about the other person.

My motto "relationships first, business second".

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

There Are THESE Days...

Friends is 20 years old + now.
My favourite show - I am not ashamed to admit that I wore out my DVD set & have had to download all of it from iTunes!

The lessons are awesome, easy & clear (and if you visit Pinterest you will find whole boards dedicated to this!!)

Lesson here - these days happen.  If you are unfamiliar - Rachel has left Barry at the alter and moved in with Monica - and has had to cut up her credit cards because she is now officially on her own with no support from daddy.

A conglomeration of assorted events that have allowed 2 old friends to reconnect & rekindle their relationship because of a hug decision that change one life, also changed the other life.

 When worlds collide, stuff happens.  Reversing this with a positive spin, this is what happens when we reach out.  The support we find can come in many forms.
Think about your business, your team or your community organization.  What decisions (collision of events etc.) are coming at you in the very near future?  What support will you need?  How will that change the relationships that are the core of your life?  What can you do to create growth, connection and focus so that as one life changes, the others will too?  Some of those changes will create 'these' days for others?  Are you ready to support them too?